In the future, today’s BMW annual conference might well be seen as a turning point for premium car brands. This year, 2016, could mark ‘peak product’ for the hugely profitable German three as they run out of new markets, new customers and new product niches to exploit.
True, BMW sold a highly impressive 2.24 million cars in 2015, growth of a healthy 6%. Net profit was up by around 10% to 6.4bn euros (£5bn) and the company’s EBIT profit margin was very solid at 9.2%.
Perhaps the most interesting part of BMW’s statement this morning what the company calls "substantial risks and uncertainties" in the global political and environmental situation.
BMW lists these as "the high public debt in many countries, the current instability within Europe, the normalisation of the Chinese market and the difficult economic situations in some emerging markets".
If not for the fact that it's Budget day in the UK, I’m sure the national papers would be decoding BMW’s comment about Europe as being as much about the chance of the UK leaving the European Union as about the migrant crisis.
But BMW makes it quite clear in these four concerns just how big the hurdles are for the premium car makers. And while the instability in Europe and the emerging markets may calm in the short to medium term, the high debt and slowing of growth in China won’t.