2020 Global: German Luxury Car Sales Worldwide, USA and China

In 2020, German luxury car brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, and VW had weaker sales worldwide but gained market share especially in China.

In 2020, German luxury car brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, and VW had weaker sales worldwide but gained market share especially in China.

In full-year 2020, German luxury carmakers and premium brands had weaker sales but mostly gained market share in major markets worldwide. Although global sales were lower, German car brands mostly increased sales in China in 2020. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, and BMW had record sales in China but all were off the record levels achieved globally in the previous couple of years. Volkswagen sales were mostly in line with the broader global market, as well as in China. In 2020, the Chinese new car market was of particular importance to German luxury car brands with China now accounting for at least a third of all German premium brand sales worldwide.

German Luxury Car Sales Worldwide by Brand in 2020 (Full Year)

German premium car marques reported worldwide deliveries for 2020 as follows:

Worldwide:2020% Change20192018201720162015
BMW (Brand)2,028,659-7.22,168,5162,125,0262,088,2832,003,3591,905,234
Mercedes Benz2,164,187-7.52,339,5622,310,1852,289,3442,083,8881,871,511

Note: Except where explicitly stated otherwise, all figures in this article refer to deliveries as reported by the manufacturers. There may be significant differences with actual sales and registrations within the same period.

All major German car brands decreased deliveries worldwide as global car markets struggled with the response to Covid-19 in 2020. Global car sales were estimated at around 15% lower in 2020. Volkswagen remained by far the largest German carmaker but due to its wide portfolio generally suffered the same decline in sales as the broader markets. Worldwide, VW sold nearly a million fewer cars than in 2019.

In 2020, Mercedes-Benz was again the leading luxury car brand worldwide. It outsold BMW in most global markets, including China but not in the USA. Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz had their ninth consecutive record year in 2019 but had sales just over 7% lower worldwide in 2020.

Porsche again outperformed the other brands with global sales down by only 3% in 2020. Audi lagged a bit behind the other German brands but strongly outperformed the VW brand.

For all manufacturers, SUVs are increasingly important for both sales and earnings. Only Volkswagen confirmed that SUVs sales worldwide in 2020 reached 35% of deliveries. In the USA, most German brands reported SUV sales around two-thirds of all sales and climbing.

Electric cars are increasingly important but will probably only reached significant numbers during 2021, especially in the European new car market.

Luxury Car Sales in China in 2020 (Full Year)

Car sales by German luxury carmakers in mainland China and Hong Kong were as follows in 2020:

In China:2020% Change20192018201720162015
BMW Group777,3797.4723,680639,953594,388516,355463,736
Mercedes Benz774,38211.7693,443652,996587,868472,844373,459

The Chinese new car market contracted by around a tenth in 2020 but German luxury car brands performed well and gained market share as well as increasing volume. Only Volkswagen had weaker sales falling below 3 million vehicles sold in China for the first time since 2016.

Audi, the BMW Group, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche all again had record sales in China in 2020. Mercedes-Benz increased sales the most with Mercedes-Benz the best-selling luxury car brand in China.

The BMW Group increased sales by 7.5% but as this includes sales of both BMW and Mini brands, Audi probably also outsold the BMW brand in China. Audi, for years the leading German luxury brand in China, increased sales by less than its direct competitors.

China is not only the largest single-country car market in the world but disproportionally important to German premium car brands. This was especially true in 2020 when China reopened car markets must faster and for longer periods than most other major regions.

Chinese car sales accounted as follows for the total global car sales of German luxury brands:

2020 (%)2019*
BMW Group33.430.0
Mercedes Benz35.830.0


Germany Luxury Car Brand Sales in the USA in 2020

The German premium car brands reported sales as follows for the USA in 2020:

In the USA:2020% Change2019201820172016
BMW (Brand)278,732-17.5324,826311,014305,685NA
Mercedes Benz274,916-13.0316,094315,959337,246340,237

Although China surpassed the USA as the most important market for German luxury cars several years ago, the American market still remains very important to German carmakers. Large SUVs rather than luxury saloons were the more popular car choice in the USA in 2020.

The American new car market contracted by around 15% in 2020 but many brands had strong sales during the final months of the year. German carmakers generally underperformed, although the increasing availability of larger SUVs somewhat compensated for the decline in the popularity of traditional passenger cars in the US.

German Premium Brand Sales in Germany in 2020

New passenger registration figures of German premium brands in Germany in 2020 were as follows:

In Germany2020% Change2019
Total Market2,917,678-19.13,607,258
BMW (Brand)240,968-13.7279,243
Mercedes Benz303,185-10.6339,185
Source: KBA

The German new car market in 2020 contracted by nearly a fifth. While Volkswagen and Audi lost market share, VW is probably the best positioned for 2021 to sell the battery-electric cars that receive huge subsidies in Germany. However, all brands continue to fail to supply the number of electric cars that the market demands with delivery times generally a minimum of four months, and some models already sold out for the first three quarters of 2021.

Global Worldwide Car Sales by Brand in 2020 (Full Year)

→→ Latest global sales by brands

Global worldwide car sales by brand in 2020 (Full Year):

“Sales” as reported by brands generally refer to deliveries and not necessarily sales to the customer and final registration. Terms and definitions may vary.