Audi leaves luxury rivals trailing in China sales

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 May, 2013, 4:38am

Volkswagen's Audi posted the fastest pace of sales growth among German luxury marques in China last month after it sold more sport utility vehicles.

Audi deliveries rose 13 per cent to 38,710 vehicles on the mainland and in Hong Kong in April, the company said on its website. Bayerische Motoren Werke, the world's largest luxury carmaker, reported an 11 per cent gain to 30,311 units in China, the firm said on its website. Daimler's Mercedes-Benz said sales increased 11 per cent to 16,241 units on the mainland and in Hong Kong.

Carmakers such as Nissan Motor's Infiniti and General Motors' Cadillac are bolstering their networks in an attempt to win more customers in China's premium car segment and challenge the dominance of the three German companies that collectively held more than 70 per cent market share last year. In China, Audi cornered 29.6 per cent of the market, BMW had 23.6 per cent, while Mercedes took 20.6 per cent last year, researcher IHS Global Insight said.

Wholesale deliveries of cars, multi-purpose and sport utility vehicles climbed 13 per cent to 1.44 million units last month, according to the state-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Of the three German luxury carmakers, Audi is the only company still reporting double-digit growth every month this year. Still, the pace slowed in April, from the 44 per cent expansion Audi posted in the same month a year earlier.

Of the three German luxury carmakers, Audi is the only company still reporting double-digit growth every month this year

Audi deliveries in the first four months rose 14 per cent, Mercedes posted a 6.6 per cent decline and BMW reported an 8.6 per cent increase. BMW declined to provide sales figures for Hong Kong.

"The trend of pursuing high-end products is reined in, in the whole society," Dong Yang, secretary general of the mainland's car association, said last week. "Also there were too many imported cars last year, which put more pressure on the pricing level."

BMW's China deliveries in April slowed, compared with a 31 per cent increase a year earlier. The carmaker expects to post "low double-digit growth" this year in China and gain market share in the country, Karsten Engel, the company's head in the country, said last month.

In contrast, Daimler has lowered the sales target this year by 30 per cent, according to a February e-mail from its China head Nicholas Speeks to dealers that was recently obtained by Bloomberg. Daimler, the world's third-largest maker of luxury vehicles, declined to comment on the contents of the email.