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While 2022 wasn’t a great year for BMW, the German brand surged late in the year. So far in 2023, BMW has continued that success, posting a sales gain in the first quarter of the year. But it isn’t the brand’s sport sedans leading the charge – instead, EVs and ultra-luxury models lead the charge.

A purple BMW M240i xDrive shows off its front-end styling.
BMW M240i xDrive | BMW

BMW small car sales down so far in 2023

For all the excellence packed into both the BMW 2 Series and 3 Series, these smaller cars didn’t perform well for BMW in the first quarter. The 2 Series posted a particularly dismal figure, selling just 1,383 units so far in 2023, compared to over 4,000 the year prior. That’s a staggering 67% decrease year-over-year. Things weren’t much better for the 3 Series, which sold a mere 6,700 units versus over 8,000 in 2022. The 17% drop is surprising considering the uptick in M3 sales, but these aren’t even the worst two models in the lineup.

That dubious honor belongs to the BMW X2. With just 78 models rolled off of dealer lots in the first quarter, it sold nearly 91% fewer models than in 2022. Considering the X2’s limitations regarding cargo and passenger space, it makes sense. Previously, the X2 was an elevated hot hatch more than a crossover. The newest facelift made it more like an SUV, at the expense of sportiness. That placed the X2 squarely into no-man’s-land, and the sales numbers bear that out.

A gray 2023 BMW X7 on the road with a mountain and the sun in the background
The 2023 BMW X7 | BMW

Big positives for BMW overall

Now that the negativity is out of the way, we can take a look at where BMW is winning so far in 2023. And it’s here where the Bavarian brand has some big hopes for the future.

For starters, big jumps for models like the iX, 7 Series, and 4 Series show that gravitas matters. As new cars continue to shift upmarket, even polarizing designs won’t keep buyers away. In fact, it almost seems like the stranger the design, the more people want it. The 7 Series jump could be attributed to a low inventory in 2022, but the updated design and introduction of the i7 EV seem to be the bigger driver here.

In addition, models like the 4 Series fell flat thanks to their polarizing looks early on. But now, it looks like that gopping face is growing on people, and BMW sold nearly 12,000 of these cars versus just 7,300 during the same period in 2022. The luxurious BMW i4 EV is also rising in popularity as it becomes more readily available.

SUVs remained largely flat, with single-digit increases across all models but one: the BMW X6. That not-quite-coupe crossover dipped 17.4% year-over-year. Truthfully, the X6 is getting a bit stale these days, while models like the Volvo C40 and Polestar 2 occupy the same space with more flair.

Things are looking up overall

The continued death of small cars aside, it looks as though BMW is finding a foothold after years of an identity crisis. Say what you want, but bonkers design and outstanding luxury features are moving more metal than the brands previous sport-sedan ethos had managed.

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