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Mercedes ignites passenger car sales afterburners

B there: Mercedes-Benz’s B-Class has been one of the major contributors to the three-pointed star’s passenger-car dominance this year.

New models and old stalwarts drive Benz to luxury car dominance, VFACTS shows

Mercedes-Benz logo4 Dec 2013

By RON HAMMERTON

MERCEDES-BENZ passenger car sales have soared more than 33 per cent in Australia this year, helping the luxury vehicle manufacturer to almost outsell both of its major German rivals combined.

Although BMW and Audi are stronger than Benz in SUV sales, more than one in three luxury passenger cars sold in Australia to the end of November has worn a three-pointed star.

And with a brace of three new Mercedes SUVs in the pipeline, starting with the compact GLA from the middle of next year, the Stuttgart company is hoping to reverse the SUV sales imbalance too.

According to official VFACTS sales figures, Mercedes car sales have rocketed 33.4 per to a record 17,853 vehicles. This compares with BMW’s 10,838 passenger car sales – up 5.1 per cent – and Audi’s 7916, up 6.9 per cent.

This year, Mercedes has dominated the luxury end of all the high-volume passenger segments – small, medium and large – as well as the luxury sportscar category above $80,000.

With a new S-Class coming on stream, it might add the upper large luxury segment to its list of winners before the year is out, too.

In the luxury small car segment above $40,000, the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class and related B-Class have gang-tackled their rivals, taking 38.9 per cent of all sales.

Against all predictions, it is the bigger, more expensive and older B-Class that is outselling its fresher sibling, 3095 units to 2901, to become the number one seller in class.

In the luxury medium car class, the soon-to-be-superseded C-Class and new CLA sedan have combined for 34.6 per cent share for Benz, while in large luxury cars, the E-Class and CLS hold a dominant 33.9 per cent for the Stuttgart brand.

Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 40,000 C-Class sedans and wagons in Australia since the current model was launch in 2007, topping 6000 sales every year to take the segment crown for six year in a row.

As well, Mercedes’ C-Class Coupe and Cabrio have secured more than 5500 sales.

An all-new C-Class is set to be revealed this month and to make its debut in the flesh at the Detroit motor show in January, ahead of a 2014 sales launch in Australia about the middle of next year.

Right now, Mercedes-Benz’s weakness is SUVs, with BMW and Audi both outselling Benz by more than two to one.

Market leader BMW has sold 7874 SUVs in the year to date (up 19.4 per cent), while Audi SUV sales have soared 31.9 per cent to 6701 units.

But Mercedes-Benz Australia-Pacific’s senior manager corporate communications David McCarthy said the company was set to address this deficiency.

He said the GLA compact SUV and mid-sized GLK were both on the agenda for Australian release, “along with something else”.

That something else is expected to be a sports crossover version of the Mercedes M-Class large SUV, to rival the BMW X6.

Mr McCarthy said the Australian Benz branch has sold a record 1411 AMG-enhanced vehicles so far this year, spread almost evenly over the A45, C63 sedan and C63 Coupe.

He said that while the C63 sedan was leading the sales at the end of November, only about 50 units separated the three models, and that it would be a race in three to the end of December.

Last year, Mercedes sold 1233 for the full 12 months.

All up, including commercial vehicles, Mercedes-Benz has accumulated 25,089 sales in the first 11 months of 2013, up 25.3 per cent on the same period of 2012.

This eclipses the 22,397 sales for the full 12 months of last year, with one month to go.

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