The top spot in luxury-auto sales in Europe in 2010 still belongs to Audi. Meanwhile, BMW AG's main brand took the second place away from Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz. Premium-car demand has been revived.
Industry association ACEA revealed that new registrations for BMWs increased by 6.5% last year to 609,196, the fastest pace among the three brands. This surpassed Mercedes' 586,146; however, Audi kept its No. 1 position with sales of 623,536 units.
Last December, Audi deliveries rose by 16%, overtaking gains by BMW of 7.3% and Mercedes of 4.2%. Luxury-car sales rose as buyers gained confidence in the economic outlook and companies used improved earnings to restock corporate fleets.
In 2009, demand took a plunge as customers chose to buy cheaper and more fuel-efficient cars that were supported by government subsidies. Most incentives ended last year. Audi seeks to take the place of BMW as the global luxury leader by 2015.
Philippe Barrier, an analyst at Societe Generale in Paris, said that it appears that after the “damaging effects from the incentives and a revival of the corporate fleet market,” the premium segment’s recovery will continue this year.
Barrier also said that Germany is the key market in Europe and that the recovery expected in the country next year will be vital for BMW, Daimler and Audi. The revamped 5-series sedan boosted BMW deliveries while Audi sales were buoyed up by the new A7 Sportback and A1 compact. [via autonews - sub. required]