Mercedes gains ground on BMW and Audi as CLA propels sales

Mercedes-Benz gained ground for a fourth consecutive month against larger luxury car competitors BMW and Audi as the CLA coupe fuelled demand for the German company’s compact models.

Sales at Stuttgart-based Mercedes brand rose 15 per cent from a year earlier in October to 126,421 cars and sport utility vehicles. That beat 5.4 per cent growth at BMW and a 6.7 per cent gain at Audi.

BMW, Audi and Mercedes are all targeting record global deliveries in 2013, seeking to attract buyers with new vehicles such as the CLA, BMW’s 4 Series coupe and a new version of Audi’s A3 compact. Audi and Mercedes are both striving to overtake Munich-based BMW as the world’s biggest luxury car seller by the end of the decade.

“Mercedes is finally building up some momentum with the roll-out of new models,” said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. “But they’ve got still some way to go and will have to maintain the dynamic to really catch up. The others aren’t standing still.”

Ten-month sales by Mercedes rose 11 percent to 1.19 million cars and SUVs, the company said on Nov. 6. BMW said today that its namesake brand’s deliveries in October totaled 140,057, pushing the 10-month figure up 8.6 percent to 1.35 million. Ingolstadt, Germany-based Audi sold 131,950 vehicles in October, with deliveries in the first 10 months of the year rising 7.5 percent to 1.31 million.

Mercedes’s A-, B- and CLA-Class compact cars amounted to 36,132 sales in October, a 73 per cent surge from the year-earlier month.

Along with its growing compact-vehicle lineup, Mercedes started deliveries in April of a revamped E-Class, an upmarket sedan that competes with BMW’s 5 Series and Audi’s A6. Sales of E- and CLS models jumped 21 per cent to 29,294 cars last month, Mercedes said.

A new version of the S-Class, the most expensive Mercedes sedan, came to market in July. The automaker has more than 30,000 orders for the revamped flagship model, chief financial officer Bodo Uebber said on Oct. 24.

“Our record sales in October have provided us with a strong start to the fourth quarter, and we have further increased our market share,” Ola Kaellenius, Mercedes sales chief, said in a statement. “We will continue to rigorously pursue our path of growth.”

The three German luxury-car makers are focusing on adding sales in growing auto markets outside Europe to make up for a sixth straight drop in annual industrywide sales their home region. In addition to expanding production in China, the world’s biggest automotive market, they’re also taking steps to begin vehicle assembly in Brazil to tap into an increasing number of affluent consumers in South America’s biggest economy.

Mercedes will start assembling the mid-sized C-Class and the GLA at a new plant in Iracemapolis, Brazil, in 2016. The move will follow BMW’s production start next year in Brazil’s southern state of Santa Catarina at a plant with capacity to build least 30,000 vehicles annually.

BMW began selling the 4 Series, which shares underpinnings with its best-selling 3 Series sedan, in September. A new generation of the X5 SUV, built at BMW’s plant Spartanburg, South Carolina, is entering dealerships this month. Delivery growth in the 10 months through October was buoyed by the X1 SUV, the 3 Series and the 6 Series luxury coupe, the company said.

“We remain on track with a new all-time high in sales in October and in the first 10 months, despite the continued headwinds in some European markets,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, said in the statement. “We are confident that sales will continue to develop positively until the end of the year and we will continue to strive for profitable growth.”

Audi plans on further gains after the A3 sedan reached the European market in September. The division, the largest contributor to group earnings at Volkswagen, will begin selling the model in China in the second quarter of 2014. Audi predicts that the car will be the most popular variant of the A3 line, which also includes hatchback and convertible models. A3 sales jumped 33 per cent last month, Audi said on Nov. 8.

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