BMW Fends Off Audi, Mercedes to Retain Luxury-Car Lead – Bloomberg
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) held on
to the lead in global luxury-car sales for the ninth straight
year even as Audi and Mercedes-Benz step up efforts to overtake
their German rival.
Sales at the namesake BMW brand increased 7.5 percent to a
record 1.66 million cars in 2013, fueled by demand for the 3-series sedan and X1 compact sport-utility vehicle, the Munich-based manufacturer said today in a statement. Including Mini and
Rolls-Royce, sales rose 6.4 percent to 1.96 million vehicles
“The BMW group posted record sales once again in 2013 and
is clearly the No. 1 in the premium segment,” BMW sales chief
Ian Robertson said in the statement. “Despite the prevailing
headwinds in many markets, we aim to increase sales and make
2014 another record year.”
BMW is stepping up spending on new models to fend off
Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes and Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi, which have both
vowed to take the lead in the segment by the end of the decade.
To keep its edge, the maker of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce
vehicles plans to introduce the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit
today, BMW will showcase the new 2-Series compact coupe to help
regain the luxury-car sales lead in the U.S., which it lost to
Mercedes last year. The 2-Series will replace the 1-Series in
the U.S. in the first quarter.
Both Audi and Mercedes narrowed the gap to BMW last year.
Audi cut its deficit to 79,600 cars in 2013 from 85,000 the
previous year, while Mercedes trailed by 193,500 vehicles
compared with 220,000 in 2012.
“BMW still has quite a large edge over the competition,”
said Frank Schwope, an analyst with Nord LB in Hanover, Germany.
“Mercedes and Audi won’t able to catch up so quickly, as BMW
can keep pace with new models.”
Audi reported an 8.3 percent rise in global sales in 2013
to a record 1.58 million cars, driven by the revamped compact A3
model and the brand’s growing line-up of SUVs. Mercedes, which
lost the lead in luxury-car sales to BMW in 2005, delivered 1.46
million cars last year, up 11 percent.
Demand for BMW’s 3-Series surged 23 percent to more than
500,000 vehicles. The world’s best-selling luxury car will face
tougher competition when Mercedes rolls out an overhauled
version of the C-Class starting in March.
Deliveries of BMW’s X1 rose 9.2 percent to 161,000
vehicles. Mercedes is introducing the GLA compact SUV next year
to compete with the BMW crossover.
Mercedes, the world’s third-largest maker of luxury autos,
sliced into No. 2 Audi’s sales advantage last year as its
compact cars won new buyers. The company plans to further narrow
the gap this year and is forecast to overtake Audi in 2015,
according to forecasts from IHS Automotive.
Audi is responding with the new A3 sedan in the U.S. and a
revamped version of the TT coupe in 2014. Over the next five
years, Audi plans to spend 22 billion euros ($30 billion) to
expand its lineup to 60 models from 49 and add production
capacity in China, Brazil and Mexico.
All three German luxury-car brands posted sales records
last year as they tap into rising wealth in countries such as
China, India and Russia and a rebound in spending in the U.S.
This year, the manufacturers are again expected to grow.
BMW is forecast to retain its lead with sales of 1.77 million
vehicles, beating Ingolstadt-based Audi’s 1.66 million and
Stuttgart-based Mercedes’s 1.56 million, according to data from