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Audi Passes BMW in Global Sales to Take Lead in Luxury Race

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:02 AM

Audi AG delivered more cars than Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s namesake brand through the first two months of 2014 to nab the global lead in luxury-car sales.

Audi sold 242,400 vehicles through February, 383 more than the BMW brand, according to data from the German automakers. At the same time last year, Audi trailed BMW, which has been No. 1 in the segment for nine straight years, by 429 autos.

The Volkswagen AG brand, which has never held the top post for an entire year, will introduce 17 new or revamped models in 2014, including the TT sports car. The rollouts are part of a plan to invest 22 billion euros ($30.4 billion) over five years to become the top in annual luxury-car sales for the first time.

“We will increase deliveries in all regions of the world, including Europe,” Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler said today at the marque’s headquarters in Ingolstadt.

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, No. 3 globally in premium auto sales, is also narrowing the gap to its two larger rivals as the sales battle between the three intensifies. Mercedes deliveries through February have surged 17 percent, propelled by demand for the CLA coupe and revamped flagship S-Class sedan. All three forecast record sales this year and vow to hold the top sales position at the end of the decade.

Audi’s sales were lifted in February by a 43 percent jump in demand for the A3 compact and 32 percent growth in deliveries of the Q7 sport-utility vehicle. Worldwide, the VW marque sold 9.3 percent more cars in the first two months of the year, compared with BMW’s 8.9 percent gain.

Record Sales

“Both BMW and Audi will face increasing competition from Mercedes this year,” Daniel Schwarz, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Commerzbank AG, said by phone.

BMW last week forecast groupwide sales, including the Mini and Rolls Royce brands, will exceed 2 million vehicles this year for the first time. The Munich-based automaker expects to make up ground on Audi in the coming months as it rolls out the remake of the X5 sport-utility vehicle and other new cars.

“The innovative new models coming out this year, such as the 2-Series Active Tourer and 4-Series Gran Coupe, will give us the momentum to keep growing in 2014,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, said today in a statement.

Those models will likely help BMW retain the lead in global luxury-car sales for a 10th straight year in 2014. IHS Automotive estimates that BMW will sell 1.77 million cars, beating Audi’s 1.66 million and Mercedes’s 1.56 million.

BMW surpassed Stuttgart-based Mercedes in global sales in 2005 and has held that post on an annual basis since then.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is rolling out 13 new vehicles, including a dozen with no predecessor, by the end of the decade to regain momentum. Vehicles coming to market this year include the GLA compact SUV, the S-Class coupe and a revamped C-Class, the automaker’s best-selling model.

“If the new generation C-Class is as successful as previous models, competition for BMW and Audi is set to intensify,” Schwarz said today.

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Audi AG delivered more cars than Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's namesake brand through the first two months of 2014 to nab the global lead in luxury-car sales.
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:02 AM
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