The first quarter of 2020 has come and gone, allowing us to take a look at the race for the title of the world’s best-selling premium automotive brand.

Of course, we must bear in mind the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on global sales (and will continue to do so), with factories and dealerships shutting down across the world.

So, to the figures. The BMW brand registered 411 809 units in the first three months of 2020, representing a year-on-year decline of 20,1 percent. The Mercedes-Benz brand sold 477 378 units over the reporting period, falling 14,9 percent. By our maths, that sees the Stuttgart-based automaker ahead by 65 569 units.

Meanwhile, the BMW Group (comprising the BMW brand, Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad) hit 477 111 registrations in the first quarter, with Mercedes-Benz Cars (which includes both the Mercedes brand and Smart) managing 483 241 units. Add Mercedes-Benz Vans to the mix and the Daimler-owned group’s sales increase to 547 829.

The BMW Group said it was “flexibly adapting” its production volume to dropping demand caused by the “globally challenging sales situation caused by the corona pandemic”.

“In this way, we are creating important conditions for the company's continued economic success. In China, we are seeing the first signs of recovery with a strong order intake,” said Pieter Nota, board member responsible for customer, brands and sales.

Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, said the “repercussions of the coronavirus affect us all and will continue to stay with us in the coming weeks”.

“We have not lost sight of our goals and are continuing to work on future planning and strategic projects so that we can quickly get back on track after the crisis,” said Britta Seeger, board member responsible for marketing and sales.

“In China and South Korea, our dealerships are fully open and we see a significant increase in demand there. That gives us confidence,” she added.