BMW tumbled to the third spot in the luxury vehicle sales race last month as Mercedes-Benz is getting closer to unseat Audi from its glorious throne in the industry. BMW's global sales jumped only 7.50 percent to 133,883 units last month, totally lagging behind Mercedes-Benz.
The latter's global sales in January rose 20 percent to 150,184 units. While Audi reported the slowest growth among the three luxury car brands with a four percent increase, it still topped BMW with a total of 143,150 units. The reports indicate the shifting of fortune among the three brands.
After lagging behind the competition for a few years, Mercedes-Benz is back in the game after parent company Daimler overhauled its roster. Moreover, all-new SUVs such as the GLE are helping the brand re-establish its glory and offset the losses that may result from the economic woes in China, the world's largest consumer of automobiles.
BMW, on the other hand, continues to weaken despite coming up with the enhanced seven-series sedan. BMW Head of Sales Ian Robertson, however, expressed his optimism about the brand's growth amid the market turmoil. Since the debut in October, BMW 7 series sales have been recorded at 3,392 units last month.
Meanwhile, shipments for its rival, S class, have been recorded at 8,473 units. The Mercedes sedan has been in the market for nearly three years. The sales figures also include the latest coupe and the ultra-luxury Maybach.
BMW's slow ramp-up for its high-end vehicle, which boasts a vaunted gesture control function, is a clear indication of the brand's struggle in coming up with new ideas after years of being on the forefront of the competition with its new segments and rugged SUVs.
Recent additions to the roster include the two van-like vehicles: the two-series Active Tourer and the Gran Tourer. Since Harald Kreuger took over the brand as its new CEO last May, BMW has been said to be keeping a low profile.
As BMW turns a century old, NordLB analyst Frank Schwope believes that the 50-year-old executive is trying to come up with favorable results. According to IHS Automotive, the current pace may kick off BMW from its sales position this year. Particularly, it is in a constant struggle with Mercedes-Benz in China.
Another factor that might lead BMW out of its throne is its failure to introduce more new models. BMW's Chinese sales only climbed 8.40 percent to 43,441 units, well below Mercedes-Benz’s 62 percent gain in sales for a total of 42,671 units.