Mercedes-Benz beats rivals BMW and Volkswagen to record higher car sales

Car sales increase 1.3% to 2.34 million vehicles last year

FILE PHOTO: The Mercedes-Benz logo is seen before the company's annual news conference in Stuttgart, Germany, February 4, 2016.      REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo
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Mercedes-Benz successfully defended its crown as the world’s best-selling luxury car brand, beating out German rivals BMW and Volkswagen’s Audi for the fourth consecutive year.

The victory was confirmed on Friday when BMW reported sales of its namesake branded vehicles rose 2 per cent to a record 2.17 million cars last year. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz said Thursday its own sales increased 1.3 per cent to 2.34m vehicles. Audi lagged behind both.

Demand for upscale vehicles has proved to be more resilient than the mass market segment, which has seen sales crimped in some regions by slower economic growth and fallout from trade disputes. While deliveries of expensive models in China, the world’s largest car market have held up, the outlook could darken for the German luxury manufacturers due to their exposure to potentially higher tariffs between the US, China and Europe.

Looking ahead, BMW said it’s targeting a slight increase in group sales this year along with “solid sales growth” in China. In Europe, sales are expected to be on par with 2019 due to a “deterioration in the economic environment” and rise slightly in the US. The company already gave an indication of its sales and outlook earlier this week.

“Thanks to our large model offensive, we once again succeeded in increasing our sales to a new high in 2019,” BMW’s sales head Pieter Nota said in the statement. “I am confident that we will continue on our successful course in the current year.”

High-end luxury vehicles and large SUVs have proved especially popular. BMW said it will double sales of its luxury-class cars between 2018 and 2020, buoyed by the introduction of its X7 SUV last year.

Audi’s new sales chief Hildegard Wortmann said Tuesday a relatively new product line-up should help the brand sustain positive sales momentum and win back ground lost to Mercedes-Benz and BMW in recent years. After a dismal first half of the year, deliveries bounced back toward the end of 2019. Global Audi sales rose 1.8 per cent to 1.85m cars.