2018 International: German Luxury Car Sales Worldwide and in China

In 2018, German car brands Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche had record sales worldwide and in China. Audi sales were lower. German luxury and premium car brands mostly outperformed the broader market.

Mercedes-Benz in Geneva 2018

In 2018, German luxury carmakers BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche achieved the eighth consecutive year of higher worldwide car sales. Volkswagens also sold in record numbers worldwide while Audi sales were slightly lower. In China, German car brands outperformed the general market with luxury car brands selling in record numbers. In the USA and Germany sales were more mixed.

German Luxury Car Brand Sales Worldwide in 2018 (Full Year)

German car brands reported the following deliveries worldwide for the full calendar year 2018:

Worldwide:201817 / 18 % 201720162015
BMW (Brand)2,125,0261.82,088,2832,003,3591,905,234

Germany carmakers generally had another good year in 2018 with sales increasing worldwide for all brands other than Audi that had sales only marginally lower than a year ago.

In 2018, luxury car brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche had record sales for the eighth consecutive year. Porsche sales improved the most while Mercedes-Benz remained the world’s best-selling luxury car brand.

Volkswagen gained from a resurging Brazilian new car market that largely offset lower sales in China. Audi struggled particularly in Europe where it seemed to have been caught out by the move away from diesel and unpreparedness for new WLTP emission test regulations.

German Luxury Car Sales in China in 2018 (Full Year)

German luxury car brands reported the following deliveries in China for the full calendar year 2018:

In China:201817 / 18 % 201720162015
BMW Group639,9537.7594,388516,355463,736

In 2018, German premium car brands increased sales in China despite the Chinese new car market contracting for the first time in two decades. The trade friction with the US is a major concern for German carmakers such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz that produce several SUVs in the US for export to the rest of the world. China remained by far the most important market for German car manufacturers.

Audi, BMW (including Mini) and Mercedes-Benz all increased sales in China in 2018 by fairly similar numbers. Audi remained the leading brand but Mercedes-Benz shrank the gap in 2018 to only 10,000 cars compared to almost 200,000 in 2015. Porsche sales in China grew by a strong 12%

Volkswagen outperformed the broader market but sales were 2.1% lower in China in 2018. China represented almost 50% of VW sales worldwide.

In 2018, the Chinese market accounted for 36% of Audi sales worldwide, 31% of Porsche, 28% of Mercedes-Benz and 25% of BMW.

German Luxury Car Sales in the US in 2018 (Full Year)

German luxury car brands reported the following deliveries in the USA for the full calendar year 2018:

In the USA:201817 / 18 % 20172016
BMW Group354,6980.5352,790NA

The USA was for decades the most-important single country market for German luxury car makers and although sales are now higher in China, the US remains a very important market, especially for more expensive cars and SUVs. While Mercedes-Benz and Audi sales in the USA were lower in 2018, BMW showed some gains and Porsche and Volkswagen managed to increase sales in a weaker market.

The clear move away from traditional passenger cars in the US is a negative factor for German luxury saloons but all German carmakers offer a range of SUVs in the US, with large, high end SUVs sales increasing and reportedly very profitably so for German premium brands.

German Luxury Car Sales in Germany in 2018

German carmakers reported the following deliveries in Germany during the full year 2018:

In Germany201817 / 18 % 2017
BMW Group319,1342.5311,071

In Germany, VW remained by far the largest car brand with Mercedes-Benz in a distant second. BMW brand outsold Audi that had a difficult year. Audi seemed to struggled more than other brands to register cars compliant with new WLTP regulations.

Actual new passenger vehicle registrations in Germany for on the road use during 2018 were as follows according to the KBA:

2018 (Full Year)2017 (Full Year)% Share% Change 17/18
Total Market3,435,7783,441,262100.0-0.2

More on the German Car Market in 2018

Worldwide Car Sales per Brand in 2018