Bloomberg News

German Luxury Carmakers Limit Shutdowns as China Demand Holds Up

December 12, 2011

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Daimler AG and Audi AG plan to limit holiday breaks for the second year in a row as demand holds up for luxury vehicles in China.

BMW and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz will shut most factories for just one week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, while Audi will close European plants for two weeks, the carmakers said. The automakers lengthened year-end breaks for many workers to as long as three weeks in 2009 due to sagging deliveries.

“Because of the positive sales development, we’ll only have short factory breaks at the end of the year,” Martin Steinlehner, a Daimler spokesman, said in an e-mail today.

The luxury-auto makers posted record November sales in China. Audi soared 69 percent, BMW rose 9.8 percent and Mercedes gained 24 percent. The three are looking to the world’s biggest car market to prop up deliveries as European demand sags on concern over the region’s sovereign debt crisis. European sales in October, the most recent data available, fell 1.4 percent.

German auto buyers in November waited on average 3.3 months for delivery, down from 3.6 months in October, according to a study from the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The German car market, Europe’s largest, probably won’t grow next year as the debt crisis saps consumer confidence, auto-industry association VDA said last week.

The world’s three biggest luxury-car manufacturers are still reporting sales increases thanks to China and the U.S. BMW said today that global deliveries gained 6.4 percent last month, while Volkswagen AG’s Audi surged 28 percent. Mercedes reported Dec. 5 that sales climbed 8.3 percent in November.

Maintenance Work

Some BMW factories will be closed longer than one week for needed maintenance work or to complete renovations for revamped models, Jochen Frey, a company spokesman in Munich, said by phone today. The plant in Rosslyn, South Africa, will stop producing for three weeks to prepare for the next generation of the best-selling 3-Series, Frey said.

A factory in Dingolfing, Germany, which assembles the 5-, 6- and 7-Series models, will be shut for two weeks, while the Leipzig plant, where the 1-Series and X1 compact sport-utility vehicles are produced, will halt for four weeks, he said. The company will manufacture the i3 electric city car in Leipzig from 2013. Both factories stayed open during the holidays last year, BMW said at the time.

While most Mercedes-Benz factories will only halt assembly lines between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the plant in Sindelfingen, Germany, will close for a second week to prepare for new models including the next-generation S-Class sedan, Steinlehner said.

Audi will shut its four European factories from Dec. 26 through Jan. 6, the same as last year, to do required maintenance work, Kathrin Feigl, a company spokeswoman, said today in a phone interview.

--Editors: Chad Thomas, Robert Valpuesta.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Reiter in Berlin at creiter2@bloomberg.net; Andreas Cremer in Berlin at acremer@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net


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