Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) widened its lead in luxury-car sales last month as demand for the 1- Series and X1 compact models helped it outpace gains by German rivals Audi AG (NSU) and Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz.
BMW-brand deliveries increased 15 percent to 132,823 cars and sport-utility vehicles in October, the Munich-based manufacturer said today in a statement. That compares with growth of 14 percent to 123,600 deliveries at Audi and 6 percent to 109,632 vehicles at Mercedes.
Even with the debt crisis depressing demand in Europe, Germany’s luxury-car makers have maintained growth by tapping higher demand in the U.S. and China. BMW, Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi and Mercedes are all targeting record sales this year, while mass-market competitors in Europe are bracing for the lowest demand in the region in 17 years.
“The advantages of their international presence is clear to see,” said Marc-Rene Tonn, a Hamburg-based analyst with Warburg Research. “There’s really no crisis in the high-end segment.”
October gains for the German luxury brands helped push up sales so far this year. Ten-month deliveries at the BMW brand increased 9.3 percent to 1.24 million cars and SUVs. Ingolstadt- based Audi reported a 13 percent jump in deliveries through October to 1.22 million, while Mercedes posted a 5.1 percent advance to 1.07 million.
BMW’s sales last month were led by a 38 percent surge in demand for the X1 compact SUV, and a 36 percent jump in deliveries of the 1-Series small car.
Even with demand rising, the luxury-car brands have been competing for market share. Audi and Stuttgart-based Mercedes are keen to close the gap to BMW as they both target overtaking BMW in sales by the end of the decade. That’s led to increased discounts to boost sales.
“Incentives are clearly increasing, as they’re all needlessly focusing on market share,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. “The golden days are over.”
BMW said earlier this week that “intense competition” contributed to a decrease in the margin at its automotive division to 9.6 percent of sales from 11.9 percent a year earlier, with pricing pressure burdening its return on sales by as much as 1.2 percentage points.
To contact the reporter on this story: Dorothee Tschampa in Frankfurt at firstname.lastname@example.org