[MUNICH] Sales of BMW vehicles like the X5 sport utility vehicle and top-of-the-line 7-Series sedan rose at the slowest pace since 2009 as deliveries in China, the world's biggest car market, gained only slightly.
Sales of the company's namesake brand increased 5.2 per cent to 1.9 million autos ast year, the Munich-based luxury carmaker said Monday in a statement. Deliveries during December declined 0.7 per cent to 176,681 vehicles, and dropped by 7.1 per cent in China. Competitor Audi's sales rose 3.6 per cent to 1.8 million cars last year, also the smallest rise since 2009.
The performance contrasts with Mercedes-Benz, which topped Audi for the first time since 2010 to become the second-biggest global luxury car brand by deliveries. Stuttgart-based Mercedes's sales surged 13 per cent to 1.87 million cars, benefiting from demand for coupe-like sport utility vehicles such as the GLE and GLC. Mercedes on Sunday unveiled its revamped E-Class sedan, which competes with BMW's 5-Series and Audi's A5 models, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The carmakers' fortunes divided last year after China's economic growth decelerated to what's set to be the slowest pace since 1990. A stock market plunge and clampdown on conspicuous consumption further undermined Chinese consumers' buying intentions. Mercedes again bucked the trend there, with China becoming the brand's biggest market after increasing sales by 33 per cent to 373,459 vehicles.
Both Audi and Mercedes have declared they want to unseat BMW AG by the end of the decade as the leader in global luxury car sales. BMW was the last of the three to report worldwide deliveries for the year.