2014 (Q3) China and Worldwide: German Luxury Brand Car Sales

Black Mercedes-Benz S Class
Mercedes-Benz S-Class – The Best-Selling Limousine in the World © Daimler AG

January to September 2014: German premium brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche and VW enjoyed record sales worldwide and in China. Porsche and Mercedes-Benz saw the largest increases in sales while Volkswagen and BMW were the largest volume producers. In China, Mercedes-Benz sales increased by nearly a third but still leaving the three-pointed star some distance behind Audi and BMW. Volkswagen sales increased by only 3% worldwide – largely due to VW struggling in the Americas.

Worldwide and China Sales of German Car Brands in 2014 (Q3)

German car manufacturers continued to enjoy record sales during the first nine months of 2014. All so-called premium and luxury brands had record sales worldwide and in China, which was by far the most important single-country market for Volkswagen, Audi, and BMW (and probably soon for Porsche and Mercedes-Benz too).

Car ManufacturerWorld Q1-3 / 2014Q1-3 World% ChangeChina Q1-3/ 2014Q1-3 China% Change
BMW Group1’529’8801’436’1786.5335’863284’96417.9

All figures supplied by the respective automobile manufacturers.

Worldwide, the number of cars delivered by the five German manufacturers increased by around 600,000 cars – three quarters of these in China alone.

Mercedes-Benz – Record Car Sales in 2014 (Q1-3)

Mercedes-Benz continues to break its own sales record thus far in 2014. At 1,195,156 (+12.5) Mercedes-Benz branded cars had its best first nine months of a year ever. Third quarter sales of 412,018 (+11.9%) cars was the best three months in Mercedes-Benz history, Deliveries in September 2014 were 162,746 (+13.8%) cars – the best month ever for Mercedes.

Mercedes-Benz’s gains during the first nine months of 2014 were well spread over the regions of the globe. Europe remained the most important continent for Mercedes-Benz cars – here sales increased by 7.6% to 534,263 deliveries. Mercedes-Benz sales increased in Britain by 15.3% and in Spain by more than a quarter (+26.6%) – although in the latter from a low base. Sales in Germany, where Mercedes is the second best-selling brand after VW, remained flat with 191,205 (+0.1%) deliveries.

In North America, Mercedes-Benz sales increased by 8% to 264,171. The USA remained the most-important single-country market for Mercedes-Benz with 233,211 (+8.4%) year-to-date deliveries. September 2014 was a record month for Mercedes-Benz in the USA with 27,315 (+10.6%) cars sold.

China was again the fastest growing country for Mercedes-Benz sales. Sales during the first nine months of 2014 in China amounted to 203,485 cars. Despite this increase of 30.5%, Mercedes is still lacking behind the other German luxury car brands in China.

In Japan, Mercedes-Benz sales grew by 12.9% to 43,716 deliveries making Mercedes the eleventh strongest vehicle manufacturer by sales in Japan. In South Korea, Mercedes-Benz sales increased by 46.7% to 26,557 deliveries.

Mercedes-Benz also claims to be the leading brand for the most luxurious cars in the world. During the first nine months, Mercedes sold 75,391 S-Class limousines – an increase of 105.8% from a year ago.

In contrast, sales of Mercedes’s Smart division were down 9.4% thus far this year with 66,870 deliveries worldwide. The new Smart will be available in Germany from end November 2014.

Volkswagen – Over 2 Million Cars Sold in China in 2014 (Q1-3)

Volkswagen branded cars also recorded new records in 2014 with 4,56 million passenger vehicles deliveries worldwide during the first three quarters of the year. VW sales grew in China and Western Europe but struggled in the rest of the world.

Volkswagen sales increased by 13.8% during the first nine months of 2014 in Asia Pacific to 2,22 million cars. China remained by far the most-important single-country market for Volkswagen. During the first three quarters of 2014 VW deliveries in China exceeded two million cars for the first time ever in a nine month period – 2,07 million (+15.3%) VW cars were added to Chinese roads. In Japan, VW remained the leading foreign brand with 50,037 (+3.4%) deliveries.

Volkswagen also recorded growth in Western Europe during the first three quarters of 2014: 1,26 million (+3%) cars. In Germany, where VW is the leading brand with over a fifth of the market, sales increased by 4.8% to 430,100 Volkswagens. Sales in Russia were down 20% to 93,800 cars.

Volkswagen struggled in the Americas. In North America sales were down 8% to 432,700 cars with sales in the USA down 14% to 270,900 cars. The decline was even sharper in South America where VW deliveries were down to 488,000 (-19.3%) cars with the important, but economically struggling Brazilian market down 14% to 396,600 cars. A year ago, the Brazilian market with 460,000 sales were the second-most important for VW ahead of Germany, which has now again pulled ahead in sales.

Audi – 57th Consecutive Month of Growth in September 2014

In contrast to parent company Volkswagen, Audi enjoyed strong growth (+10%) widely spread over different regions. Audi has its best September ever with 159,950 deliveries worldwide to bring the total sales thus far in 2014 to 1,298,650 cars. September 2014 was the 57th month of consecutive year-on-year growth for Audi.

Audi remained the leading premium brand in China with 415,704 (+16%) cars sold during the first nine months of 2014.

Europe remained Audi’s most important continental market. Sales increased by 4.5% to 590,000 cars during the first three quarters of the year. Sales in Germany, Audi’s second largest single-country market grew by 3.9% to 198,043 cars. Despite an increase in sales of 10.2%, the UK slipped back to being the fourth largest market for Audi with 126,840 deliveries.

Audi recorded strong growth in the USA during the first nine months of 2014. Deliveries increased by 14.5% to 130,983 cars making the US the third most-important country for Audi just ahead of the UK.

Porsche – Record Sales in 2014 (January to September)

Porsche is also enjoying a record year in 2014. During the first nine months of 2014, Porsche deliveries worldwide increased by 13.3% – the strongest growth of any German premium car brand – to 135,642 cars.

Porsche achieved double-digit growth in all regions of the world thus far in 2014. In Europe, Porsche sales increased by 14.8% to 43,274 cars including 17,848 (+11.9%) in Germany.

The USA remained the largest single-country market for Porsche during the first nine months of 2014 with 35,366 (+12.1%) deliveries. However, the Chinese market is catching up fast with 32,592 (+18.7%) deliveries year-to-date. In September 2014, the Chinese market was significantly larger for Porsche with 4,344 deliveries compared to 3,607 in the USA.

Porsche’s most-sold car model thus far in 2014 is the Cayenne – a not so sports car-like SUV – with 51,000 deliveries. The iconic Porsche 911 sold 22,900 times.

BMW – Record Sales in 2014 (January to September)

BMW also had its best September and best first three quarters of the year ever in 2014. BMW Group sales during the first nine months of 2014 increased by 6.5% to 1,529,880 deliveries consisting of 1,319,492 (+9.1%) BMW-branded cars, 207,529 (-7.5%) Minis and 2,859 (+42.3%) Rolls Royce limousines. BMW thus claims to be the largest manufacturer of premium and luxury cars in the world.

The BMW Group sales in China increased by 17.9% during the first nine months of 2014 to 335,863 deliveries leaving BMW comfortably ahead of Mercedes-Benz but some way off Audi sales. In the USA, BMW sales grew by 5.2% to 275,779 cars.

Europe remained the most important region for BMW Group sales. Year to date, BMW has sold 662,836 (+3.4%) cars in Europe.

iBMW cars sold year to date are 10,540 i3 and 341 i8 cars.

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.