2014 (Q1) China and Worldwide German Luxury Car Sales

German premium and luxury car brands had another record start to a year in 2014 with strong sales growth in China and worldwide during the first quarter.

Mercedes S Class Coupe at the Geneva Auto Show 2014

The first quarter of 2014 saw record car sales by German carmakers Audi , BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi worldwide. As usual, German premium and luxury cars saw the largest growth in China where increases for the first three months of 2014 ranged from 12 to 48%. Mercedes-Benz saw the strongest growth in car sales worldwide (+15%) and especially in China (+48%). Volkswagen sales increased 4% worldwide but sales were down in the Americas and despite a 14% increase in China, lagging behind the competition. BMW was the strongest-selling premium brand worldwide with Audi the favorite luxury brand in China.

Record Luxury Car Sales in China and Worldwide in 2014 (Q1)

German premium and luxury car brands had another record start to a year with Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen all registering new records for worldwide sales. Sales growth was once again strongest in China where German carmakers continue to strongly outperform the market.

Manufacturer  Car Sales in China Q1/2014  % Change  Car Sales Worldwide Q1/2014  % Change
Volkswagen  682’700  14.1  1’480’000  3.9
Audi  124’520  21.1  412’850  11.7
BMW Group  107’951  25.4  487’024  8.7
Mercedes-Benz  67’058  47.6  374’276  15.2
Porsche  9’885  11.8  38’663  4.5

(Note: Sales figures and geographic definitions as per the individual carmakers.)

China is the most important single-country market for Volkswagen, Audi and BMW and the second most important market for Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, which still rely more on the USA.

BMW – Record First Quarter in 2014

BMW had its best start to a year ever with worldwide deliveries of new BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce cars increasing by 8.7% to 487,024 vehicles. March 2014 was the best month ever for the BMW Group with 212,908 (11.3%) deliveries – the first time ever that the German company sold more than 200,000 vehicles in a single month.

During the first quarter of 2014, the BMW Group delivered 487,027 (8.7%) cars worldwide – 428,259 (12.3%) BMW-branded cars , 57,868 Minis, and 897 (39.7%) Rolls Royce limousines. The decline in Mini sales is largely due to a major model change in the next couple of months.

The BMW Group saw an increase in sales in all major regions of the world in the first three months of 2014. In Asia, sales increased by 21.8% to 158,120 cars. In Mainland China, deliveries were up by a quarter to 107,951 (25.4%) while the increase was even higher in Japan – up 26% to 18,888 cars. (The impressive increase in Japan is largely due to an increase in consumption tax in April 2014 – Mercedes-Benz did even better.)

China easily remains the most important market for the BMW Group with sales during the first quarter of 2014 nearly twice as high as in Germany where BMW delivered 64,183 (0.5%) cars. Sales in Europe grew by 3.3% to 214,031 deliveries keeping the continent the most important region for BMW.

In the USA, BMW’s second largest single country market , sales increased by 2.6% during the first quarter of 2014 to 81,034. Total BMW deliveries to the Americas were 99,606 (3.3%) cars.

Volkswagen – Record Q1/2014 Despite Slow Sales in the Americas

Volkswagen branded car deliveries increased by 3.9% during the first quarter of 2014 to 1.48 cars worldwide.

Volkswagen sales in China increased to 682,700 (14.1%). However, this growth was slower than the broader market and hurt Volkswagen’s worldwide performance as China is its most important single-country market by far. In neighboring India, VW sales slumped by 37% to only 10,500 cars.

Volkswagen sales in Europe increased by 6.6% during the first quarter of 2014 to 422,300 deliveries. After a tough couple of months, sales in Germany grew again by 5.3% to 133,100 new passenger vehicle registrations .

Volkswagen sales in the Americas were mostly down during the first quarter of 2014. In Northern America, sales decreased by 7.6% to 134,600 cars with the important US market shrinking by 11% to 87,300 cars. In South America, Volkswagen sales were down by nearly a quarter during the first three months of 2014 to 135,000 (-23.5%) deliveries. In Brazil, Volkswagen sales slumped by a fifth to 105,300 (-19.7%) cars .

Audi – Record Start to 2014 with Strong Growth in China

Audi car sales increased worldwide by 11.7% during the first quarter of 2014 to 412,850 vehicles – the first time ever Audi exceeded 400,000 deliveries in the first quarter of a year.

In contrast to Volkswagen-branded cars, VW-owned Audi saw strong increased in most markets during the first three months of 2014. Audi sales in China were up by more than a fifth to 124,520 (21.1%) making the Chinese car market – the most important market for Audi by far – almost double the size of the German market and three times the size of the British market.

Audi sales in Europe breached the 200,000-car market for the first time in a first quarter with total deliveries up 6.8% to 200,350 vehicles. Sales in Germany increased by 12,4% to 66,458 cars and in Britain – Audi’s third most important market – up by 11.3% to 43,671 deliveries.

In the USA – only the fourth most important car market for Audi – sales grew by a more modest 3% to 35,228 cars.

Porsche – Record First Quarter 2014

Porsche also started 2014 with record sales during the first three months of the year. Worldwide, Porsche deliveries grew by 4.5% to 38,663 cars. The introduction of the new smaller SUV Macan is expected to add significantly to Porsche’s sales figures with German car magazines hinting at delivery times of nearly a year.

Porsche saw the largest increase in sales during the first quarter of 2014 in China where 9,885 (11.8%) cars were delivered to new owners. China remains narrowly the second most important car marker for Porsche, just behind the USA where a 5% increase saw 10,136 Porsches delivered during the first quarter of 2014.

In Europe, Porsche sales were flatter with an increase of 1.4% to 11,491 cars in Europe, of which 4,881 (1.8%) were in Germany – Porsche’s third largest market .

Mercedes-Benz – 50% Increase in Car Sales in China in 2014 (Q1)

Mercedes-Benz also had a record start to 2014 with double-digit growth in worldwide deliveries in each of the first three months of the year. March 2014 was the best month ever for Mercedes-Benz with 158,528 (13.3%) sales worldwide.

Mercedes-Benz Group car sales increased by 13.5% to 397,708 cars worldwide including 374,276 (15.2%) Mercedes-Benz cars and 23,432 Smart cars . (Smart sales are expecting to remain weak until the release of a new model later in the year.)

Mercedes-Benz sales in China grew by 47.6% to 67,058 cars during the first quarter of 2014. After several years of lackluster growth in the world’s largest car market, Mercedes-Benz is finally catching up with other German luxury carmakers but the numbers are still far behind BMW and Audi. China thus became the second most important market for Mercedes-Benz ahead of Germany.

Sales growth in Japan was even stronger: up 50.3% to 17,807 new car registrations during the first quarter of 2014. However, Japanese car sales were skewed due to an increase in consumption tax on April 1, 2014.

The USA remains the most important single-country market for Mercedes-Benz with sales up 5% during the first quarter of 2014 to 72,614 deliveries. Germany has slipped to third place with 56,002 (+5.4%) deliveries during the first three months of 2014. Mercedes-Benz sales in Europe – 161,389 up 7.5% – remain strong and should be helped further during 2014 by the launch of the smaller GLA crossover and the new C-Class sedan.

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