Bloomberg News

BMW Fends Off Audi for Luxury-Car Lead With Revamped 3-Series

April 11, 2012

“The BMW Group achieved an all-time high in sales last month and the best first quarter in its history,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, said in the statement. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“The BMW Group achieved an all-time high in sales last month and the best first quarter in its history,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, said in the statement. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) defended its lead in luxury-car sales in the first quarter as the revamped 3-Series sedan helped it stave off challenges from Volkswagen AG (VOW3)’s Audi and Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz.

Deliveries of the namesake BMW brand rose 11 percent to 356,548 cars and sport-utility vehicles in the first three months of 2012, the Munich-based company said today in a statement. The performance beat Audi’s sales of 346,100 vehicles and Mercedes’s 313,902.

“The BMW Group achieved an all-time high in sales last month and the best first quarter in its history,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, said in the statement. “We aim to continue the momentum with additional new models this year.”

Audi and Mercedes, which have both vowed to surpass BMW for the top spot in luxury-car sales this decade, failed to close the gap after BMW overhauled the best-selling 3-Series in February. Sales of the sedan rose 19 percent to 29,004 in March.

The maker of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce cars plans to grow faster than the overall auto market in 2012 on the back of new models, including the four-door 6-Series Gran Coupe and an updated version of the 7-Series luxury sedan, BMW said today. Audi and Mercedes are also targeting record sales this year.

The new models will probably secure BMW’s position as the world’s largest maker of luxury vehicles in 2012. Sales of the brand are projected to rise 7.1 percent to 1.39 million autos this year, compared with Audi’s 4.4 percent gain to 1.29 million and Mercedes’s 5.6 percent advance to 1.28 million, according to data from IHS Automotive.

Continuing Growth

Audi is expecting a lift in sales in the second half after it introduces a new version of the A3 compact, which will be broadened to include a sedan variant as well as a plug-in hybrid version. The Ingolstadt, Germany-based VW unit posted record sales in the first quarter after deliveries in China climbed 41 percent to 25,941 vehicles. Sales globally rose 11 percent.

“We kicked off 2012 very successfully and expect growth to continue in the months to come,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi’s sales chief, said in a statement yesterday.

Mercedes, based in Stuttgart, Germany, will roll out the A- Class compact in September as it seeks to catch up with BMW and Audi. The sporty hatchback is one of at least five new small cars, which will include a four-door coupe and a compact SUV, aimed at boosting the brand’s appeal with younger drivers. Mercedes’s global sales rose 12 percent in the first quarter, lifted by demand for the S-Class sedan.

“To date we have recorded a new sales record in every month of this year,” Joachim Schmidt, head of sales at Mercedes, said in an April 3 statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dorothee Tschampa in Frankfurt at dtschampa@bloomberg.net

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


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