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BMW / MINI’s Sales in Japan Dropped 21% in 2020 Due to the Pandemic

BMW and its subsidiary MINI’s vehicle sales in Japan fell 20.8% year-on-year to 56,000 units in 2020. The market share of the two brands among foreign marques dropped 1.8pp to 21.9%. In response to the spread of the new coronavirus, BMW launched an online store in July 2020, selling all major BMW models. However, the double-digit decline in sales in April 2020 (down 38.8%) and May (down 52.6%) when state of emergency was in place in Japan had an impact on year-round sales. In addition, sales were also affected by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC)’s raid of BMW Japan in September 2019. According to JFTC, starting from around January 2015, BMW forced dealers to accept a sales plan which was unlikely to be achieved, and requested them to register unsold vehicles under their names if the plan was not fulfilled. Due to suspected violation of the Antimonopoly Act, BMW submitted a commitment plan to JFTC to prevent a recurrence of such violations. The commitment plan was approved by JFTC on March 12, 2021. BMW’s excessive norm setting for dealers continued until around December 2019, but JFTC has confirmed that it is no longer practiced.

In 2021, BMW intends to expand its product lineup with a focus on electric vehicles. In February 2021, the MHEV versions of the X5, X6 and X7 were launched in Japan. In addition, the BEV version of the iX will be officially released in the fall of 2021. BMW has also announced that it will introduce the iX3 and i4 in Japan. The i4 is scheduled to be launched in spring 2022 at the earliest.

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