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Mercedes headed for record global sales

All class: Mercedes’ compact car line-up, which includes the GLA-Class SUV, has helped boost global sales.

Growth in Asia-Pacific, US and Europe pushing Mercedes sales to record levels

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Mercedes-Benz logo22 Sep 2014

MERCEDES-BENZ is continuing to climb to new heights in terms of global sales across its ever-expanding passenger vehicle range this year, with improved volume in the lucrative Chinese market underpinning growth.

The German luxury car manufacturer ended last year with 1,461,680 passenger vehicle sales – the brand’s biggest ever annual total – and to the end of August sales were up 12.3 per cent over the same period in 2013, having topped the one-million mark (now at 1,032,410) a month earlier than it did last year.

The gains have come in key markets including the United States, which is up 8.2 per cent, Europe which grew by 7.3 per cent and Asia-Pacific – which includes Japan, China and Australia – rising by 25.7 per cent year to date.

Mercedes attributes the growth to its expanded line-up that includes the compact A-, B-, CLA- and GLA-Class models, as well as strong demand for the facelifted E-Class and all-new S-Class flagship.

The company expects further growth on the back of the recently released volume-selling new-generation C-Class range, and the S-Class Coupe which launches in Europe this month.

Arch-rival BMW is leading the global sales race for premium brands in 2014, with 1,151,904 sales (up 9.5 per cent), while Audi sits in second place with 1,138,700 units (up 10.5 per cent) so far this year.

After last month’s performance, Audi’s global sales chief Luca de Meo said the company had revised its full-year sales target to 1.7 million while his opposite number at BMW, Ian Robertson, said “we remain confident that we will hit our target of breaking the two-million mark in 2014”.

Speaking with Australian media at this month’s AMG GT coupe unveiling in Germany, Daimler AG chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Dieter Zetsche remained coy when asked to specify the company’s sales target for 2014, saying only that he hoped they would be “higher than last year”.

When pressed on how much he expected sales to grow, he simply said “significantly”.

Mercedes’ sales have grown considerably in China, with the three-pointed star brand up by 31.5 per cent to 178,241 units to the end of August this year, however it is still well off the pace of Audi, which is the top-selling luxury brand in China with 364,090 deliveries YTD.

The Volkswagen-owned brand has had a presence in China about 20 years under Volkswagen’s joint-venture partnership with Chinese car-maker FAW, and the A6 mid-size sedan remains one of the top choices for senior government officials.

Dr Zetsche admitted that Mercedes was late to the party in China, but said that it is steadily increasing its market share and is focused on eating away at its competitor’s lead.

“You know that we had a late start and we ran into some problems two years ago,” he said. “We have addressed basically all of the weak spots and we are now building up a lot of momentum and I think starting next year we will start to close the gap to our competitors.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes’ Australian sales continue to increase this year, with 16,726 passenger car and SUV sales YTD, which is up 11.5 per cent on the same period last year.

Add in light commercial vehicles, and the brand’s total so far this year is just shy of 20,000, though on passenger car/SUV sales alone Mercedes is the outright premium brand leader.

BMW is currently second on 14,786 sales (up 10.7 per cent) and Audi in third with 12,772 (up 18.5 per cent).

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific senior manager of public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy predicted a stronger finish than last year, when it became the first luxury brand to surpass 20,000 sales for a single year in Australia.

“We had a record year last year – and we are already having a record year this year,” he said.

“We will surpass 2000 AMG sales this month (September). Combine all that and if all the ships come in and we don’t have the logistics issues that cost us 150 units last month in New South Wales and Queensland, I’d like to think we can get pretty close to 30,000, if not pass it.”

Mr McCarthy said the sales target had not been dictated by its parent company, and predicted that the overall new-car market in Australia could continue to slide this year.

“It’s not a hard-and-fast goal, it’s more of an internal one we would like to get. The market is still very tough and there are a lot of distractions out there for people,” he said.

“I think we will see potentially a slowing of the market towards the end of the year. Whether that means it drops below one million, I don’t think it will.

“But there is potential there for it to really take a hit, and it has already taken a hit.”

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