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Mercedes-Benz leads the luxury pack

A record third quarter for the German carmaker means it looks set to retain its crown as the best-selling automotive luxury brand of 2019 both globally and in Singapore.

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Smaller, less expensive models like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon have fuelled the brand's strong sales

Singapore

MERCEDES-BENZ is on track to once again be the best-selling luxury automotive brand in the world, a position it has kept since 2016.

The German luxury carmaker reported its best third quarter in history, selling 590,514 cars globally, a 12.2 per cent increase over the same period in 2018. From January to September this year, it sold 1,725,243 cars globally, a 0.6 per cent increase.

That puts it ahead of its closest, perennial rival BMW, which sold 1,601,397 cars in the same period. Audi sold 1,357,102 cars in the same time frame. The three German luxury carmakers are far and away the top-selling luxury automobile brands - the fourth-ranked brand globally is Lexus, which sold 701,000 cars in 2018.

Last year, Mercedes-Benz sold 2,310,185 cars in what was its eighth record year, compared to BMW with 2,125,026 units, and Audi with 1,812,500 units.

The brand's continued gains are impressive, considering the global car market is on a downswing. 2018 was the first time since 2009 that global car sales dropped, from 86.4 million in 2017, to 86 million. Automobile industry analysts expect car sales to contract by up to 5 per cent in 2019, due to numerous factors including uncertainty from US tariffs, Brexit, more stringent European emissions regulations, and the fact that China's automobile boom is finally beginning to slow.

In Singapore, traditionally a strong market for Mercedes-Benz, it may come as no surprise that the brand is also on form to repeat its good showing in 2018.

According to the Land Transport Authority's registration figures, a total of 5,948 Mercedes-Benz cars were sold here in the first nine months of 2019, which puts Mercedes-Benz as the third best-selling brand here, after Honda (12,709 units) and Toyota (9,964 units), but above Hyundai (4,792 units) and BMW (3,770 units).

In fact, there hasn't been a year in the past decade where Mercedes-Benz wasn't in the top five in Singapore, and it was even the top selling car brand, bar none, in 2013.

A major contributor to its success is the expansion of its compact model range. Abroad, the company says they enjoyed "double-digit growth rates" this year.

Mercedes-Benz Singapore declined to divulge its sales figures of its individual models, but Philipp Hagenburger, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Singapore, told The Business Times: "Locally, we've observed that compact cars contribute significantly to the brand's overall vehicle sales on a yearly basis, and that's not surprising as the models offer a strong value proposition for the Singaporean car buyer. Presently, it's one of the most well-received segments here, and we fully expect its popularity to continue growing in the near-to-far term."

Mercedes-Benz has added four such models to its range this year to date: Its smallest, least expensive four-door model here, the A-Class Saloon, as well as the A-Class hatchback, the B-Class multi-purpose vehicle, and the CLA four-door coupe

While Mercedes is best known for its large, opulent machines, like the S-Class luxury limousine, when it comes to sales, it's gone big by keeping things small.