BMW sales plunge in first quarter as coronavirus takes toll

Sales dropped by 20.6% in the first quarter

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BMW said on Monday that group sales dropped by 20.6% to 477,111 vehicles in the first quarter as the outbreak of coronavirus took its toll and many retail outlets temporarily closed.

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BMW said it had seen sales growth at the start of the year but added: "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."

It said around 80% of retail outlets in Europe and 70% in the United States were temporarily shut due to the pandemic.

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BMW sales to China, where the outbreak started, were down 30.9% in the January to March period. They dropped by 18.3% in Europe and by 17.4% in the United States.

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(Reporting by Michelle Martin Editing by Riham Alkousaa)