By Elizabeth Behrmann – Bloomberg
BMW AG defended its position atop the world’s luxury-car market in the first quarter, shipping more of its X5 sport-utility vehicle and 2-Series Active Tourer van.
BMW’s namesake brand delivered 451,576 vehicles in the three months to March 31, a 5.4 percent increase from a year earlier and more than Audi’s sales of 438,250 cars and the 429,602 autos sold by Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes, which is trying to gain market share by refreshing most of its SUV range, overtook Audi last month for the first time since December. The Daimler AG luxury brand’s deliveries jumped 16 percent to 183,467 cars, helped by the C-Class sedan and wagon.
With the three German companies locked in a race for No. 1 in the luxury-car market, BMW said it expects to hit a fifth consecutive sales record this year. The Munich-based company is introducing 15 new or refreshed models, including an overhaul of the top-of-the-line 7-Series sedan and facelift for the X6 SUV.
“It’s particularly pleasing to see the recovery in Europe continuing while sales in North America remain strong,” Ian Robertson, the head of sales, said Tuesday in a statement.
Both Mercedes and Audi want to pass BMW and each other in deliveries by 2020. To underpin its effort, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, based in Ingolstadt, plans to spend 24 billion euros ($25.4 billion) to develop models and expand production in the next five years. Mercedes, based in Stuttgart, is rolling out the new GLE coupe crossover this year to challenge the BMW X6.