BMW Extends Sales Lead Over Audi on 3-Series Deliveries

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG widened its lead in the luxury car industry in the first six months of 2013 as sales of the revamped 3-Series model surged 22 percent.

Global deliveries by the BMW brand rose 7.7 percent from a year earlier to 804,248 cars and sport-utility vehicles, the Munich-based company said in a statement today. Growth outpaced increases of 6.4 percent posted by both Volkswagen AG’s Audi division, which ranks second in the premium segment, and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz marque.

First-half deliveries were at record highs for the period as the three German luxury-auto producers sidestepped recessions in Europe with growth in the U.S. and China. BMW, Ingolstadt-based Audi and Stuttgart-based Mercedes are largely maintaining production throughout July and August to meet overseas demand, rather than shutting plants for traditional summer breaks.

“The luxury-car makers profited from growth in China, the U.S. and emerging markets in the first half, avoiding the brunt of the European slowdown,” said Marc-Rene Tonn, a Hamburg-based analyst at Warburg Research GmbH. “We expect the European market to stabilize in the second half and the premium-car makers should get their share of it while growth in the U.S. and emerging markets should continue.”

Stocks Jump

BMW rose as much as 3.4 percent to 68.47 euros, the biggest intraday jump since June 25, and was trading up 3.3 percent at 1:51 p.m. in Frankfurt. That pared the stock’s decline this year to 6.2 percent. Daimler gained as much as 3.1 percent, while VW advanced as much as 2.8 percent.

Audi sold 780,500 cars and SUVS in the first half, including a 5.5 percent gain in June, the division said today in a separate statement. Mercedes, which lost the worldwide sales lead to BMW in 2005 and fell behind Audi to third place in 2011, posted 694,433 deliveries in the period, propelled by an 8.3 percent jump last month, Daimler said on July 3.

BMW is expanding its lineup, including the introduction later this year of the i3, its first electric-powered car, to fend off Audi and Mercedes, which have both vowed to claim the top spot by the end of the decade. The 3-Series, which includes a GT version that entered showrooms last month, was BMW’s best-selling vehicle line with 236,215 cars sold.

Sales were at a record “despite the prevailing headwinds in some European markets,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, said in the statement. “We aim to continue our sales growth in the second half of the year with new models,” including a revamped X5 SUV and the new 4-Series coupe.

A3 Sedan

Audi expects to get a lift in the second half from a new sedan version of the A3 compact, Luca de Meo, the brand’s sales chief, said in the division’s statement. The model goes on sale in Europe in September and in the U.S. and China in 2014.

Mercedes is pushing to make up lost ground by rolling out a new line of entry-level compacts, including the CLA four-door coupe, and refreshing upscale models like the top-of-the-line S-Class sedan. Sales of the brand’s compact models, including the A-Class hatchback and van-like B-Class, surged 58 percent to 173,362 vehicles in the first half.

“Daimler should gain some momentum in the second half over BMW” because of its new vehicles, said Juergen Pieper, an analyst at Bankhaus Metzler in Frankfurt.

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