BERLIN -- BMW's group vehicle sales dropped by 21 percent to 477,111 in the first quarter as the outbreak of coronavirus took its toll and many retail outlets temporarily closed.
The automaker said about 80 percent of retail outlets in Europe and 70 percent in the U.S. were temporarily shut due to the pandemic.
BMW's core-brand sales fell 20 percent to 411,809, while Mini sales were down 23 percent to 64,449. Demand for Rolls-Royce cars dropped 27 percent to 853, the automaker said in a statement.
BMW sales in China, where the outbreak started, were down 31 percent in the January to March period. They dropped by 18 percent in Europe and by 17 percent in the U.S.
BMW’s plants are scheduled to operate again from April 20, and the company is working on procuring face masks and medical equipment for its workers. The company is also looking into producing its own face masks.
“We are responding to the worldwide challenging sales situation due to the corona pandemic and are adapting our production volume flexibly to demand,” sales chief Pieter Nota said in the statement.
Sales of electrified vehicles in the first three months rose 14 percent to 30,692.
BMW said it had seen sales growth at the start of the year, but this had been eclipsed by the spread of the virus.
"By February, the impact of the pandemic had already led to a significant decrease in sales in China. By March, the effects of the pandemic were clearly visible in sales figures in Europe and the U.S.," BMW said.
Bloomberg contributed to this report