Mercedes Boom in China Boosts July Sales Above BMW and Audi

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Mercedes-Benz sold more luxury cars than Audi and BMW in July, as its rising deliveries in China defied a market slowdown there.

Bolstered by demand for its C-Class sedan and compact cars in China, Daimler AG’s Mercedes saw global sales rise 15 percent last month to 149,753 vehicles. BMW AG’s namesake brand sold 147,513 vehicles last month, 5.8 percent more than a year earlier. Deliveries at Volkswagen AG’s luxury division Audi rose 1.4 percent to 146,100 cars.

“Mercedes’s growth in China shows it’s getting closer to regaining the top spot in the world luxury-car market,” said Philippe Houchois, a London-based auto analyst for UBS Ltd. The carmaker is reaping the benefits of filling gaps in its portfolio with new models, he said.

China’s decision this week to devalue its currency by the most in two decades to combat its economic slowdown presents a challenge for the three German luxury-car makers. The policy shift reduces the value of their revenue in the country, the world’s biggest car market. Daimler said the currency devaluation will have a “slight” effect on profit this year, while BMW said it is working to manage its exposure to the fluctuations of the yuan.

Chinese auto deliveries fell 2.5 percent last month to 1.3 million units, the lowest level since February 2014, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Sales Drop

Audi’s July sales in the country dropped 13 percent to 42,267 cars, compared with a 42 percent jump for Mercedes to 29,540 vehicles. BMW deliveries dropped 7.4 percent over the period in China to 32,226 cars.

“In China, the market situation has remained challenging as expected, exacerbated by the stock market turmoil,” Luca de Meo, Audi’s sales chief, said Friday in a statement.

The slowdown adds pressure to the fight for luxury market share. Audi and Mercedes have both pledged to displace BMW as the world’s best-selling luxury-car brand by the end of the decade.

Mercedes’s seven-month sales increased 15 percent to 1.05 million autos. BMW’s sales for its main brand over the same period totaled 1.08 million vehicles, up 5.2 percent from a year earlier, while Audi’s sales advanced 3.5 percent to 1.05 million vehicles.