2013 (Q1) China and Worldwide German Luxury Car Sales

German luxury car sales in China continue to rise during the first quarter of 2013. VW, Audi, BMW and Porsche had new record months while Mercedes struggled.

Audi Cars in China:
© Audi Media Services

2013 started well in China for most German luxury carmakers with record sales during the first quarter. China is now the single most important national market for Volkswagen, Audi, and BMW, second for Porsche, and third for Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes was the only German carmaker to saw a decline in sales. China is likely to be the most important market for all German carmakers by the end of 2013.

Car sales in China by German carmakers during the first three months of 2013 according to the respective manufacturers were:

Manufacturer  Car Sales in China Q1/2013 % Change from Q1/2012  Car Sales Worldwide % Change Q1/2012
Volkswagen  598,100 23.7  1,430,000 5.2
Audi  102,810 14.2  369,500 6.8
BMW Group  86,070 7.6  448,200 5.3
Mercedes-Benz  45,440 -11.5  324,898 3.5
Porsche  7,121 24.2  30,553 21.1

Volkswagen – Continued Growth in Car Sales in China and Asia-Pacific

Although Volkswagen is struggling in Germany and Europe, sales continue to grow in the Asia Pacific region during the first three months of 2013. Volkswagen delivered 653,500 cars (120.9%) in the Asia-Pacific region during the first quarter of 2013.

In China, Volkswagen sold 598,100 cars (+23.7%) from January to March 2013. In India, sales decline by 18.5% to 16,600 cars but in Japan increased by 8.6% to 18,148 cars.

Worldwide, Volkswagen delivered 1,43 million cars during the first three months of 2013 – an increase of 5.2% over 2012. In Europe, sales declined by 10.3% to 396,300 cars – making the European market only two-thirds the size of the Chinese market for Volkswagen. Germany now accounts for only a third the number of cars VW sells in China.

Audi – Record Sales Worldwide in First Quarter of 2013

Audi had a record first quarter in 2013 with 369,500 cars (+6.8%) delivered worldwide. In the Asia-Pacific region, Audi sales increased to 124,200 cars (+14.9%) – more than double the number of cars Audi sold in Germany.

In China, Audi’s single most important market, sales increased to 102,810 cars (+14.2%) for the first quarter of 2013. In India, sales increased by 15.3% to 2,616 cars and in Japan by 16% to 7,441 cars – both markets are only a fraction of the important Chinese market.

BMW – Record Sales Worldwide and in China in 2013 (Q1)

BMW Group (BMW, Mini, and Rolls Royce cars) had a record first quarter selling 448,200 (+5.3%) cars worldwide. BMW branded cars were also delivered at a record 381,404 (+7%) cars for the first three months of 2013.

In China, the BMW Group had a record first quarter in 2013, selling 86,070 cars (+7.6%). Sales also grew strongly in other Asian markets including Japan (14,990/+7.2%) and South Korea (8,900/+16.9%).

Mercedes – Decline in Sales in China in 2013 (Q1)

Mercedes-Benz had a record March but worldwide sales for the first quarter of 2013 increased by only 3.5% to 324,898 cars.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Mercedes sales were down 1.1% to 83,684 cars sold during the first three months of 2013. In China, Mercedes blamed the reorganization of sales structures and upcoming model changes for an 11.5% contraction in sales to 45,440 cars. China remains only the third most important national market for Mercedes-Benz after the USA and Germany.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, growth was stronger (but total numbers much smaller) than in China: Japan 11,846 (+12.4%), South Korea (+15.5%), and Taiwan (+16%).

Porsche – Record First Quarter in China 2013

Porsche – now part of the Volkswagen Group – also had a strong start to 2013 with 30,553 (+21.1%) deliveries worldwide.

Sales in the Asia-Pacific region increased to 11,112 (+28.9%) deliveries – seven more than in Europe. In China, Porsche delivered 7,121 (+24.2%) cars – only 38 cars fewer than in the USA, Porsche’s strongest market.

Although German luxury car manufacturers have to deal with a shrinking market in Germany and Europe, they generally managed to poach market share from cheaper carmakers. However, with the exception of Mercedes, German premium cars continue to sell very well in China.

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.