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VFACTS: Audi closes on BMW

C this: Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class outsold its major luxury medium car rivals combined in 2015.

Mercedes is luxury car king again, but the battle for second place is getting hotter

6 Jan 2016

GERMAN importers BMW and Audi appear to be poised for a knock ’em down, drag ’em out sales battle for second place behind leader Mercedes-Benz in the luxury car market in 2016.

Last year, Audi drew within 2000 sales of BMW – 23,088 to 25,022 – and although both manufacturers are running at record sales pace in a market that has embraced prestige cars as never before, it is Audi that is making up most ground.

Last year, Audi sales jumped 20.1 per cent, compared with BMW’s increase of 10.1 per cent. In December, Audi outsold BMW, 1988 to 1702, with Audi’s volumes rising 27.6 per cent for the month and BMW’s falling 11.4 per cent.

With Audi’s new A4 range just around the corner, the Ingolstadt company seems well placed to give its rival a run for its money however, neither of these companies will be in a position to challenge Mercedes-Benz for now.

Not counting commercial vehicles, Mercedes clocked up a record 31,750 car and SUV sales in 2015 – 6728 ahead of BMW (excluding Mini) and 8662 ahead of Audi.

If Mini’s 3342 sales are counted, BMW’s total rises to 28,364.

But counting vans and trucks, Mercedes’ tally was 36,374, representing a jump of 14 per cent on 2014 and good enough to give it 11th place in the national sales rankings.

The Mercedes C-Class was the top-selling luxury car in the land, notching up a record 9373 sales – more than many mainstream vehicles. And as Mercedes points out, the C-Class tally was more than the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Lexus IS and Jaguar XE combined.

The C-Class and CLA-Class between them took a whopping 50 per cent of the medium luxury car segment.

In the large luxury segment, the ageing E-Class – due to be replaced this year – and CLS-Class crunched all comers with a combined 40 per cent share.

The new Mercedes S-Class wiped the floor with rivals in the upper large luxury class, singlehandedly taking almost 43 per cent share, with 331 sales. Next best was the BMW 7-Series on 93 sales.

In the smaller car ranks, Audi’s A3 was tops in the small luxury class, with 5443 sales, although Mercedes A-Class (3629) and B-Class (1967) scored a combined 5596 sales in the segment to give the three-point star brand a leading 31.5 per cent share.

BMW had a winner in sports cars, with its 4 Series coupe/convertible beating Mercedes’ C-Class Coupe, 1921 to 1409.

Audi’s Q3 is the dominant small luxury (3445 sales), but Mercedes’ new GLA-Class has made inroads (3011).

In the medium luxury SUV segment, Audi’s ageing Q5 carried on relentlessly at the top, with 4122 sales in 2015, well ahead of BMW’s X3 and X4 twins (2806 and 1119).

But in December, the newly arrived Mercedes GLC creamed the opposition with 605 deliveries and a 33 per cent segment share, and with a full year of sales in 2016, no one would be surprised if the GLC wins its segment too.

In the large SUV brigade, BMW’s X5 stands undisturbed on top of the sales leader board, with 4181 sales.

In overall German SUV sales, BMW is top dog on 10,163 units in 2015, followed by Audi’s 9612 and Mercedes’ 7635.

But Mercedes is rising fast, with SUV sales up 51.5 per cent in the past 12 months, thanks to new additions such as the GLC and GLA-Class.

Of the other luxury brands in the Australian market, Lexus made up solid ground, with sales rising 24.2 per cent to 8691 units, while Jaguar’s volumes rose 10.7 per cent to 1292 sales. Volvo’s tally edged up 5.3 per cent, to 4943 units.

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