Audi poised to pass Mercedes, finish year No. 2 in global premium sales
BMW Group sets new record, should remain No. 1
MUNICH -- Audi should for the first time pass the Mercedes-Benz brand in full-year global sales and finish 2011 as the world's No. 2-selling premium brand behind BMW.
With one month to go, Audi leads Mercedes by more than 56,500 total vehicle sales, despite the Daimler subsidiary outselling Audi last month and setting a record for vehicles sold in the January-November period.
Through 11 months Mercedes brand's sales are up 7 percent to 1,136,525 units while Audi's volume has grown 18 percent to 1,193,110 vehicles. (See box, bottom)
BMW topped its German rivals in November and should defend its title as No. 1 in global premium-car sales.
Regardless of what position they achieve in the ranking, each automaker is on track to finish the year strong.
With more than 1.25 million sales after 11 months, BMW brand should easily break its record of 1,276,793 set in 2007. BMW Group, which includes the BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, has already sold more vehicles in the first 11 months of this year -- 1,510,862 -- than in all of 2010.
"This puts our record sales target for the full year of more than 1.6 million vehicles well within reach," BMW sales chief Ian Robertson said in a statement.
Helped by its leading position among premium brands in China, Audi expects to finish the year with a record 1.3 million sales. Mercedes brand wants to end 2011 with a volume of more than 1.25 million. That number rises to 1.35 million when sales of sister brand Smart and Maybach are included.
Despite the strong sales, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is not pleased with Mercedes's third-place ranking.
"Our goal is to be No. 1 in profitability and sales in the premium segment," Zetsche told Automotive News Europe earlier this year. He wants that to happen by 2020 -- at the latest, sources say. Audi wants to be the world's No. 1 premium brand by 2015.
BMW plans to keep its lead. "We are clearly looking forward rather than over our shoulder," Robertson told Automotive News Europe earlier this year. "We have the clear objective to stay the most successful premium manufacturer."
1. BMW 115,124 +6; 1,252,205 +13
2. Audi 111,400 +28; Audi 1,193,110 +18
3. Mercedes 113,859 +8; 1,136,525 +7
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