2015 (Q3) China and Worldwide German Luxury Car Sales

Porsche e-Hybrid at the Geneva Auto Show 2015September 2015: Record new car sales for Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW worldwide and in China but Audi struggled in China and Volkswagen sales were down. German luxury and premium brand car manufacturers continued to sell well with record numbers of deliveries for the first three quarters of a year for Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Sales of Audi cars worldwide increased slightly but were down in China. Volkswagen sales were down worldwide and in China with worryingly for Volkswagen, the strongest-performing regions also were the fallout from the diesel emission scandal will be felt the hardest.

Car Sales in China and Worldwide by German Premium Brands

Germany’s premium and luxury car marques reported the following sales statistics for passenger vehicle sales during the first nine months of 2015 in China and worldwide:

Manufacturer % Change Car Sales Worldwide Q1-3/2015 % Change
VW Group* 2,578,000 -5.2 7,430,800 -1.5
Volkswagen 1,914,000 -7.4 4,349,500 -4.7
Audi 414,411 -0.3 1,347,950 3.8
BMW** 342,683 2 1,395,780 5.8
Mercedes-Benz 266,287 30.9 1,376,424 15.2
Porsche 44,240 36 173,085 28
*Volkswagen Group includes Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Seat, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, MAN, Scandia. **BMW figures for China includes Mini. Statistics and definitions as per individual car manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz – Record Car Sales in China and Worldwide (2015/Q3)

Mercedes-Benz continued to enjoy record breaking car sales in 2015: September was the strongest single month ever, the third quarter of 2015 its strongest ever, and the first nine months of 2015 also the best in the company’s long history. Of the luxury car marques, only Porsche had more impressive growth figures.

In September 2015, Mercedes-Benz delivered 188,444 automobiles (+15.8%) to customers worldwide. The third quarter of 2015 saw 477,996 deliveries (+16.1) while year-to-date Mercedes-Benz has sold 1,376,424 cars (+15.2%). This strong growth allowed Mercedes-Benz to overtake Audi in worldwide car sales.

The group’s Smart brand also had a strong year. Following slow sales in 2014 in anticipation of new models, Smart sales increased by 31.6% thus far in 2015 to 88,019 cars .

Mercedes-Benz sales thus far in 2015 in China increased by nearly a third to establish China ahead of the USA as the most important single-country market for Mercedes-Benz cars. However, with 266,287 sales, Mercedes-Benz remained well behind market leaders Audi and BMW in China.

Sales in the USA, traditionally the most-important market for Mercedes-Benz, increased by a more modest but still significant 7.2% to 249,890 cars during the first three quarters of 2015. In Germany, the third largest market for Mercedes-Benz cars , sales growth was the market average of just over 5% to 201,203 deliveries.

BMW – Record Sales Worldwide and in China in 2015 (Q3)

The BMW Group similarly had its best September ever in 2015 and the highest number of car deliveries ever in the first three quarters of a year. The BMW Group (BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce cars ) delivered 1,644,810 cars (+7.5%) worldwide from January to September 2015.

In September 2015, Mercedes-Benz cars outsold BMW by around 8,000 vehicles worldwide, but during the first nine months of 2015, BMW remained the best-selling German premium brand with 1,395,780 (+5.8%) deliveries of BMW marque cars. Mini sales increased by 18.7% to 246,426 cars during the first three quarter of 2015.

In China, BMW Group (BMW and Mini cars) sales increased by 2% to 342,683 vehicles sold during the first nine months of 2015. BMW thus slightly narrowed the gap to market leader Audi while staying comfortably ahead of Mercedes-Benz in the world’s largest single-country market.

During the first three quarters of 2015, BMW Group sales in the USA increased by 6.9% to 294,930 cars. In Britain, the group’s fourth largest market, sales increased by a strong 13.8% to 171,233 BMWs and Minis sold. In Germany, growth was a more modest 7.6% to 183,991 cars for BMW and 1.2% to 29,633 Minis.

Volkswagen Group – Lower Sales Worldwide and in China (Q1-3/2015)

Worldwide sales of cars in the Volkswagen Group fell by 1.5% to 7,430,800 cars – most of the damage due to lower sales of the Volkswagen brand (see below). Sales increased by around 6% in both Europe and North America but were down by 5% in China, down 10% in Eastern Europe and down by 25% in South America, with the Brazilian market down by a third.

Apart from Volkswagen (-4.7%), all other major car brands in the group increased worldwide sales during the first nine months of 2015: Audi (3.8%), Skoda (2.2%), Seat (4.9%) and Porsche (+27.6%).

Porsche – Worldwide Growth and Record Car Sales in 2015 (Q3)

Porsche continued to grow at a rapid pace in 2015 – no other German luxury brand experienced growth at a similar pace. During the first nine months of 2015, Porsche sales worldwide increased by 28% to 173,085 deliveries. Around 70% of all Porsches sold are now SUVs rather than sports cars with the Macan currently the best-selling model.

In China, again ahead of the USA as Porsche’s largest single-country market, Porsche sales increased by 36% during the first nine months of 2015 to 44,240 deliveries. Sales in the USA grew by 11% to 39,300 cars.

In Europe, Porsche sales grew by a strong 34% to 58,150 cars. In Germany, the third largest market for Porsche, sales increased by a quarter to 22,317. In Germany, at least, the Porsche 911 remained the most important car for the company: 5,301 (+21%) Porsche 911s were sold during the first three quarters of 2015.

Audi – Worldwide Growth but Slowdown in China (2015/Q3)

Audi sales worldwide continued to grow in 2015 with a total of 1,347,950 deliveries or an increase of 3.8%.

Audi experienced strong growth in the USA with sales increasing by 12.5%. However, the USA remained only Audi’s third largest single-country market but with only 147,403 cars sold in the States during the first nine months of 2015, Audi sales lack well behind competitors BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

In China, by far the largest single-country market for Audi, sales slipped by 0.3% during the first three quarters of 2015. Although Audi remains by far the largest German luxury carmaker in China, the direct competition continued to grow while more mainstream car marques, including Volkswagen, were struggling.

In Europe, Audi sales increased by 3.8% to 612,650 deliveries. In Audi’s second largest car market – Germany – sales increased to 208,367 cars (+5.2%) and a similar increase allowed Audi to deliver 13,570 cars in Britain – its fourth largest market.

As part of the Volkswagen Group, and having used similar engines in its smaller models, Audi may also experience a more challenging final quarter of 2015.

Volkswagen – Lower Sales Worldwide and in China (Q3/2015)

The emission scandal came too late in September to make a significant difference to Volkswagen sales figures although the brand has certainly started to suffer already with sales increases in Europa and North America below the market average.

Worldwide, Volkswagen-branded car sales were down 4.7% during the first three quarters of 2015 with VW delivering 4,349,600 cars compared to 4,563,400 in 2014. In China, Volkswagen sales fell by 7.4% to 1,914,000 cars – 150,000 cars fewer than in 2014. In Brazil, sales were down 32.6% to 267,500 cars – 130,000 fewer than a year ago.

Worryingly for Volkswagen, the only regions were the company have registered strong sales in 2015 – Europe and North America – are also the regions that are most likely to be severely negatively affected by the diesel emission scandal. In Western Europe, VW sales increased by 6.3% during the first three quarters of 2015 to 1,146,800 cars while sales in the US shrunk by 2.5% to 270,900.

In September 2015, Volkswagen sales in the USA actually increased by 0.6% to 26,100 deliveries. However, the broader US market grew by 16% in September 2015 to its best September in 15 years.