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Tony O'Kane | Feb 2, 2016

One out of every two BMWs sold in Australia may soon be an SUV, as sales of high-riding wagons for the German luxury brand fast approach parity with the marque’s passenger car range.

Buoyed by rising sales of the new BMW X1, X4 and X6 and aided by relatively stable volumes of the evergreen BMW X5 (which dominates the large luxury SUV segment) and X3, BMW’s SUV product portfolio is growing its share of overall brand sales.

There is strong growth in what we call the UKL segment, small cars are certainly the fastest-growing segment in the premium market,” BMW Australia Managing Director Marc Werner said to TMR.

“However we are seeing that there is a shift from passenger cars to SUVs.

“Last year we had around 40 percent SUV sales [of total BMW volume], but we see that growing in the near future to 50 percent.

“We don’t know if that will happen this year or next year, but certainly in the near future.”

Last year the X5 overtook the 3 Series in sales to become BMW Australias most popular model, with 4181 X5s finding owners in 2015 compared to 4146 3 Series sedan/Touring sales over the same period.

BMW X5 M and X6 M
BMW X5 M and X6 M

The BMW X3 occupied third place with 2806 sales in 2015, with the 1 Series and 4 Series Coupe/Convertible following with 2307 and 1921 sales respectively.

The finishing order will likely be different for this year. The plug-in hybrid X5 xDrive40e (below) arrives in the second quarter, while the all-new X1 only went on sale in the fourth quarter of 2015 and has already exploded in popularity.

In December, the X1 was the third most popular BMW behind the X5 and 3 Series. In fact, Werner says demand for the X1 has been so strong that supply has been extremely tight since its arrival in showrooms.

“Demand for that particular car is absolutely overwhelming,” Werner said to TMR, “and we are fighting to get some more production allocated for this market.”

The 2016 BMW X1
The 2016 BMW X1

The success of the X1 has also seen significant conquest sales, with Werner stating that “75 to 80 percent of X1 sales” are to new customers coming from other premium brands.

But BMW isn’t the only one with a significant SUV sales split. Rival Audi ended last year with over 41 percent of overall sales being for its “Q” range of SUVs, and Lexus SUVs accounted for 55 percent of that marque’s 2015 sales volume.

It’s not universal though. Mercedes-Benz’s SUV sales split came in at 21.5 percent, and that manufacturer is currently the leader in the premium segment when it comes to sales.

In the non-premium market, manufacturers like Toyota, Volkswagen and Mazda still sold significantly more passenger cars than SUVs last year (28 percent, 14.7 percent and 36.1 percent respectively).

The 2016 BMW X1
The 2016 BMW X1

But no matter whether SUVs eclipse passenger cars in BMW’s order books, Werner says the company is on track to continue growing its sales this year.

BMW ended last year with 10.1 percent sales growth and over 25,000 overall sales. Werner says that momentum should carry through 2016:

“We want to continue to grow double-digit wise. Assuming the economy stays healthy and consumer appetite for premium cars remain healthy we should see new record levels for BMW Australia.”

MORE: BMW News and Reviews

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