Sorry, Audi, but you’ll have to keep dreaming about being king of the luxury automakers. Despite outselling Mercedes-Benz globally in the first quarter of 2010, the brand failed to trump rival BMW. The Bavarians revealed their first quarter sales results, showing BMW outsold Audi by only 1709 cars.
Although BMW likes to boast that it sold 315,614 vehicles in the first quarter of 2010, that number accounts for BMW automobiles, BMW motorcycles, Minis, and Rolls-Royce offerings combined. Looking simply at automobiles, BMW managed to move 265,809 examples worldwide. Audi, on the other hand, sold 264,100 units. Close, but no cigar…
Still, had BMW not witnessed a solid sales growth in the first quarter, we likely would be writing a different story. Both the entire BMW Group and BMW automobiles saw sales rise by 13.8 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2009.
The strong finish was bolstered in no small part by March sales alone. BMW automobiles witnessed a 12.7-percent sales jump over March 2009, bringing the total to 141,701. Mini saw only a 9.1-percent increase to 23,880 cars, but still welcome growth, especially considering the slump it witnessed in the first quarter of 2009. Astoundingly, Rolls-Royce delivered 125 cars. Given that it sold only 70 examples last March, that accounts for a 78.6-percent increase.
“We are back on our growth track in nearly all the automobile markets,” said BMW board member Ian Roberson. Admittedly, certain markets played a larger influence in first quarter results than others. BMW saw massive growth in both Brazil and China, witnessing 131.2- and 106.1-percent increases, respectively. Although growth in the U.S. was “only” 7.4-percent, that still accounts for 55,051 cars, making it the company’s second-largest market.
The lead market is still Germany, which bought 56,617 vehicles in the first quarter of 2010. Interestingly, BMW says it was the only German automaker to increase its domestic sales, although that increase — spread across BMW and Mini brands — was only by 1.4 percent.
It will be quite interesting to see how the Audi-BMW race plays out throughout the course of 2010. Audi has obviously been gaining momentum in the global marketplace, but BMW has a number of new products — including the new 5-Series sedan and Mini Countryman — due to reach consumers by the end of the year.
Get your camera ready — we expect this race once again be settled with a photo finish.