2016 (Q1) German Luxury Car Sales Worldwide and in China

Mercedes-Benz & BMW at Geneva 20162016 started well for German luxury car brands with Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW and Audi all setting new sales record during the first quarter of the year. Mercedes-Benz sales grew the fastest of the German premium car brands allowing Mercedes to overtake both Audi and BMW to become the largest manufacturer of luxury cars in the world. Mercedes-Benz also increased sales the fastest in China but remained well behind Audi and BMW in the world’s largest single-country market. Porsche also continue to expand rapidly. VW sales continued to contract in many of its largest markets.

Record Germany Luxury Car Sales Worldwide and in China in 2016 (Q1)

Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi set new record sales worldwide and in China during the first quarter of 2016 and new record monthly sales in March 2016. Sales of Volkswagen cars were down in most of its major markets with VW not only beset by scandal but also hit hard by economic slowdowns in some of its main markets.

ManufacturerCar sales in China Q1/2016% ChangeCar Sales Worldwide Q1/2016% Change
Volkswagen 722,800 6.5 1,459,500 -1.3
*BMW figures for China includes Mini. Statistics and definitions as per individual car manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz – Record Sales in 2016 (Q1)

Mercedes-Benz confirmed its position as the largest producer of luxury cars in the world by increasing sales by 12.6% to a new record 483,487 Mercedes-Benz branded car deliveries worldwide during the first quarter of 2016. March 2016 was also a record month for Mercedes with deliveries up by 8.4% to 198,921 cars.

China became the single most-important market for Mercedes-Benz only a year ago but with sales increasing by a strong 36.4% during the first quarter of 2016, sales are at 106,641 cars well ahead of second placed USA. In the USA, Mercedes-Benz car sales contracted by 3.1% to 75,769 cars.

Despite weaker sales in Japan (-6.3%), Mercedes-Benz remained the top-selling foreign car brand in Japan during the first three months of 2016.

In Germany, Mercedes-Benz sales increased by 7.9% to 64,846 deliveries. A strong performance by Audi caused Mercedes-Benz to slip to third place, from a long-held second best-selling car marque in Germany, during the first quarter of 2016.

The Smart brand also increased sales to new records. Worldwide Smart sales increased by 23.3% to 35,453 deliveries during the first quarter of 2016.

BMW – Record Sales in 2016 (Q1)

BMW, in its centennial year, also set new record sales. BMW branded car deliveries worldwide increased by 6% during the first quarter of 2016 to 478,743 cars. BMW also had its best month ever in March 2016 with a record 201,352 (2.9%) BMWs delivered worldwide.

Mini also had a record March 2016 and record first quarter to the year with worldwide deliveries up by 6.6% to 39,061 cars in March and 5.4% to 78,311 deliveries during the first three months of 2016.

The BMW Group (BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce cars) increased sales by 10.5% in China during the first quarter of 2016 to 127,105 cars. In the USA, sales were down 10.8% to 100,081 cars but still leaving BMW as the best-selling German car marque in the US.

Audi – Record Sales in 2016 (Q1)

In contrast to Volkswagen, VW-owned Audi also enjoyed a record March and record first quarter of the year in 2016. Worldwide Audi car sales increased by 4% to 455,750 for the first three months of 2016 and by 4.6% to 186,100 cars delivered in March 2016.

China remained the most important single car market for Audi. However, the competition is catching up with Audi sales increasing only 4.7% to 139,540 deliveries during the first quarter of 2016. During the first quarter of 2015, Audi was still 55,000 cars ahead of Mercedes-Benz and nearly 20,000 ahead of BMW.

Nearly half of all Audis were sold in Europe, where sales increased by 7.3% to 222,350 cars during the first quarter of 2016. In Germany, Audi moved ahead of Mercedes-Benz to become the second best-selling car brand with 81,263 deliveries (+11%) and in the UK, its third largest single country market, Audi sales increased by 4.3% to 47,735 deliveries.

The USA remained Audi’s fourth largest country market. In contrast to Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Audi increased sales by 4.6% but the volume of 41,960 cars remained relatively low.

Porsche – Record Sales in 2016 (Q1)

Porsche also had a record start to the year with worldwide deliveries up 9.5% to 55,974 cars during the first quarter of 2016. China was again the largest and fastest growing major market for Porsche with sales up 23.5% to 16,409 cars.

In the USA, now Porsche’s second largest country market, sales increased by 7.1% to 12,238 deliveries. In Germany, Porsche sales contracted by 14.7% to 5,994 cars. (The newly launched Macan skewed the figures somewhat at the start of last year.)

Although Porsche likes to stress its sporting credentials, 70% of Porsche’s built during the first three months of 2016 were SUVs. Near a third of all new Porsches were Cayennes with the smaller Macan representing 39% of Porsche production figures. The iconic 911 now has a share of Porsche sales of only 14%.

Volkswagen – Lower Sales in 2016 (Q1)

Volkswagen was struggling at the start of 2016 from a combination of self-induced problems and broader economic negative developments in some of its major markets. Worldwide, Volkswagen sales contracted by 1.3% to 1,459,500 deliveries.

In China, which accounts for nearly half of all VW sales worldwide, sales increased by 6.5% to 722,800 cars during the first quarter of 2016. However, this was well below the market growth of 9.4% for the first quarter and during March 2016, VW sales in China increased by only 3.6% compared to 12.4% for the total market.

In most other major markets VW sales were weaker during the first quarter of 2016. In Europe, sales were flat (-0.2%) to 429,300 deliveries while deliveries in Germany contracted by 3.8% to 138,700 cars – a weak performance in an expanding European market.

In the Americas Volkswagen was struggling too. Sales were down in the USA by 12.5% to 69,300 cars. In Brazil, sales were down 39.2% to only 59,600 cars compared to a broader contraction of 28.4%. A year ago, Volkswagen deliveries in Brazil were 20,000 more than in the USA during the first quarter of the year.

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.