VW’s Audi Joins Porsche in Record Sales on Luxury DemandChristoph Rauwald
Audi, Porsche and Bentley sold more cars than ever as the Volkswagen AG luxury divisions rolled out new models to tap rising demand from the world’s wealthy.
Audi’s deliveries last year rose 8.3 percent to 1.58 million cars and sport-utility vehicles, helped by revamps of the A3 compact, the company said today in a statement. Porsche posted a 15 percent jump to 162,145 deliveries as demand for the Boxster roadster and related Cayman sports car more than doubled. Bentley’s sales surged 19 percent to 10,120 autos.
Luxury-auto sales have outpaced mass-market vehicle delivery gains as incomes rise in countries such as China, India and Russia, and spending bounces back in the U.S. Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen is adding models such as Bentley’s first SUV and Porsche’s Macan crossover in a strategy to overtake Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co. as the car industry’s biggest seller by 2018 while increasing earnings.
The premium brands should “remain a key driver” for Volkswagen this year as “demand for upscale vehicles in markets like China is set to continue to grow,” Frank Schwope, a Hanover, Germany-based analyst at NordLB, said by phone.
Volkswagen fell 0.4 percent to 199.45 euros at the close in Frankfurt, reversing a gain earlier in the day. The stock has increased 16 percent in the past 12 months, valuing the manufacturer at 90.9 billion euros ($123.5 billion).
Nine-month group operating profit at Volkswagen totaled 8.56 billion euros, with earnings amounting to 3.74 billion euros at Audi, 1.89 billion euros at Stuttgart, Germany-based Porsche and 98 million euros at Crewe, England-based Bentley. Volkswagen also owns Italian supercar producer Lamborghini, whose profit figures are included in Audi’s numbers.
Among the world’s largest national automotive markets, China generated the biggest sales growth at Audi last year with a 21 percent jump, followed by the U.K. with a 15 percent gain. Porsche’s U.S. deliveries rose 21 percent, while demand in China increased 20 percent.
Porsche is targeting further delivery growth this year, as feedback on the Macan presentation has been “very positive,” and the 918 Spyder hybrid sports car is “not far” from being sold out, Matthias Mueller, head of the division, said today on a conference call. The Macan, priced starting at 57,930 euros, is scheduled to go on sale in Germany on April 5.
Audi has a target of replacing Bayerische Motoren Werke AG as the world’s biggest maker of premium vehicles by the end of the decade. The division surpassed the 1.5 million-delivery mark two years earlier than planned in 2013, with A3 sales rising 19 percent and the Q line-up of SUVs posting a 24 percent increase, Ingolstadt, Germany-based Audi said today. A sedan version of the A3 that went on sale in some markets last year is scheduled to enter the U.S. and China in early 2014.
“In the past four years alone, Audi has attracted more than 600,000 new customers,” Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler said in the statement.
BMW has yet to release group delivery figures for 2013. Its Rolls-Royce super-luxury division in the U.K. said today that annual sales rose 1.5 percent to 3,630 cars. Demand was helped as the $234,000 Wraith, Rolls-Royce’s first coupe since Munich-based BMW took the brand over in 1998, joined the line-up in the final weeks of the year.
Bentley said yesterday that sales in 2013 were boosted by a new version of the Flying Spur sedan that went on sale in the last four months of the year and accounted for 2,005 deliveries. The division is developing its first SUV to go on scale in 2016 to expand beyond exclusive sedans and coupes.