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BMW stays focused as Audi closes in

Three pronged attack: Audi’s A3 is leading the fight-back with strong sales since the start of the year.

Audi closing the gap on BMW in Australia as luxury car sales battle heats up


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7 Jul 2014

UPDATED: 17/07/2014BMW Australia says it is not concerned by Audi’s strong double-digit growth this year, and insists it will not be beaten on the sales charts by the four-ringed brand.

At the halfway point this year, Audi’s sales have climbed 18.5 per cent over the first six months of 2013, which sees it closing in on 10,000 units YTD (9661) and puts it within striking distance – 1195 units – of BMW, which has itself grown 8.7 per cent to 10,856 new registrations for the period.

Both Audi and BMW are on record sales pace, as is the market-leading luxury brand Mercedes-Benz, which has experienced 14.3 per cent growth this year to pass the 15,000 mark already (by six units).

Take commercial vehicles out of the equation and Mercedes is still well out in front, racking up 12,670 passenger car and SUV sales so far this year.

BMW Group Australia director of finance and administration Peter Buchauer said he was not looking in the rearvision mirror at Audi, but was confident BMW would not be overtaken.

“I don’t think Audi will beat us,” he said. “It’s not a question that we are really entertaining.

“I guess we are running our (own) race towards the product we have available and also from a production perspective, what we can get into this market and price positions that we have in this market. And (with) that we’re comfortable.

“From that perspective it is not a concern of ours that we would look daily into the back mirror to see who is chasing us.”

Audi is on its way to its 10th consecutive year of sales growth in this market, and Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle is confident the brand will maintain its momentum in the second half.

“We had high expectations for growth in the first half of 2014 and we are delighted to report that we’ve achieved our results with record-breaking success,” he said.

“Our success has come from a strong sales performance achieved across all segments of our range – passenger and SUV models. It’s an indication of the health of the Audi brand in Australia and we’re pleased with the momentum we are gaining.

“We expect a similarly strong second six months.”

Mercedes-Benz is continuing on its merry way after taking back the luxury car sales crown last year from BMW, which has dominated the charts over the past two decades.

The Stuttgart marque cracked the Australian new-vehicle sales top 10 for the first time in May, and last month recorded an all-time high for any month with 3040 registrations.

“While there are a few swinging voters out there, we’re the ones getting the preferences,” said Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific spokesman David McCarthy.

“The interesting thing is – the three Germans – we’re all up in a market that’s down.”

Overall new-vehicle sales in Australia are down 2.4 per cent year to date, with luxury brands such as the three dominant German marques bucking the trend, along with a handful of bigger-selling brands – most notably Holden, Hyundai and Volkswagen.

Jeep has been the standout performer, up 43.2 per cent YTD.

BMW’s new-generation X5 has been an important contributor to its sales growth this year, up 15.1 per cent and beyond 2000 units YTD (2033), placing it second behind the all-important 3 Series, which is down 20.9 per cent (2213).

Its higher-end passenger cars (5, 6, 7 Series) models and the X3 SUV are also down this year, but positive gains have been made by the smaller X1, the 1 Series hatchback and new 4 Series models.

Mr Buchauer said BMW is focused on ensuring it has the right product available for Australian buyers.

“The important thing is you’ve got to drive your line in a race and make sure you’ve got the right product and work with the customers,” he said.

“From that pool that we create, and the things that you see coming through the pipeline, we will get a great result in the market. In the end it’s the product that matters.”

BMW’s product pipeline for the remainder of the year will give the company more ammunition against its key rivals, with a facelifted X3 on the market and the all-new X4 launching next week.

The third quarter will bring a 30th anniversary edition of the M5, the showroom arrival of the M3 and M4 performance duo in August and a 228i to the 2 Series range in September.

The busy year will be capped off with the arrival of the i3 EV and plug-in hybrid hatch twins, 2 Series Active Tourer and facelifted 1 Series in November, before the launch of the second-generation X6 in December.

Audi’s sales this year have been bolstered by the popular A3 small car, which has found 2058 homes YTD – up 173 per cent on the first half of last year.

Audi’s Q3 and Q5 SUVs also continue to sell strongly, with sales of 1611 and 1616 respectively in the first half, while a host of smaller-volume models have returned double-digit growth including the A1 (+25.9 per cent), A6 (+28.7 per cent), A7 (+11.9 per cent) and A8 (+11.8 per cent).

Mercedes-Benz’s top-selling model is currently the A-Class (+97.5 per cent YTD with 2623 sales), although it could be overtaken by the C-Class (-23.1 per cent with 2401) once the new-generation model reaches showrooms in August.

All-new series such as the GLA and CLA are boosting sales, while double-digit sales growth has also come from the new S-Class (+186 per cent), E-Class (+49.8 per cent), E-Class Coupe/Convertible (+86.8 per cent) and GL-Class (+35.8 per cent), among others.

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