In the latest twist in the fierce duel between BMW and Audi for first place in the heated global luxury car sales race, BMW has overtaken its longtime rival to regain first place after posting stronger than expected February sales numbers.
This was achieved thanks to strong demand for the popular BMW 3 Series sedan, as well as the recently released BMW X1 crossover vehicle. Both vehicles helped the Bavarian automaker see a 7 percent increase in overall sales. Audi’s numbers also increased for the month of February, but its 3.2 percent sales increase fell short of BMW’s. While this increase is very impressive considering the economic headwinds that its home markets in Europe are facing, BMW is not letting its guard down and is aiming to sustain this new found momentum by hanging on to the top spot for the remainder of the year.
In a statement released late last week, Ian Robertson, BMW Group sales chief stated, “In February the BMW Group achieved another healthy sales increase and we intend to continue the positive development with exciting new models throughout the year.” However, while dethroning Audi is a significant achievement, the company faces a formidable challenge from its other key competitor in the luxury-car market, Mercedes-Benz. While that company’s sales numbers were lower in February than BMW’s by 37,229 units, Mercedes will be unleashing a wave of new products for 2013 that could drastically tip the sales race in the company’s favor and potentially knock BMW out of first place.
The wild card in this heated three way battle for sales supremacy though is the ongoing economic meltdown in Europe which has created a massive decline in overall sales for a wide swath of automakers, and could be an important factor in the luxury car segment considering that the vast majority of BMW’s sales gains came from the increased demand in the U.S. and Chinese markets, versus domestically in Europe, where January sales of luxury vehicles plummeted to levels not seen in years. Regardless of the outcome, this fierce race will benefit customers in the long run since better products and new technologies will be created to try and give one company an edge over the other and that is something we all can look forward to. That is, unless these automakers engage in a race to the bottom in pursuit of volume. Recent new models such as the Mercedes-Benz CLA and BMW 320i make it seem as if perhaps that is a potential outcome.
But hey, they’ll sell more cars, and that’s all that matters, right?