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Audi leads charge in 2014 sales

A plus: Audi’s A3 range recorded a massive 43 per cent boost in global sales for the month of February.

Global luxury car sales race heats up with Audi in the lead for January and February

12 Mar 2014

AUDI’S aggressive plan to be the world’s top-selling premium brand by 2020 has been given a shot in the arm, with the Ingolstadt marque reportedly overtaking regular leader BMW in the global sales race for the first two months of 2014.

Bloomberg has reported that Volkswagen’s premium arm sold 242,400 vehicles globally in January and February this year, a mere 383 more than arch rival BMW but enough to pocket the bragging rights.

It marks a turnaround on the results of the first two months of last year when BMW outsold the four-ringed brand by 429 units. And with a whopping 17 new or updated models set to launch this year, Audi stands every chance of retaining its position.

Mercedes-Benz still trails its two German competitors in 2014 with 214,445 sales in the same period, despite a 16.6 per cent jump over last year’s January/February results. This is contrary to Australia, where Benz reigns supreme.

Audi has never been the top-selling premium brand in overall annual sales, with BMW taking the crown for the past nine years.

Audi’s global sales increase has been attributed to a 43 per cent boost for its A3 small-car range in February and a 32 per cent lift for its Q7 family-size SUV, even though the latter is due to be replaced by an all-new model inside 12 months.

Speaking at the company’s annual press conference and company-wide update yesterday, chief executive officer Rupert Stadler explained that the company had laid many of the requisite foundations for its strong start to this year in 2013.

“The past twelve months have seen us embark on a huge globalisation drive in opening new plants in Hungary and China, as well as preparing for local production operations in Mexico and Brazil,” he said.

“The new A3 family is proving very popular with our customers, as are our SUV models in the Q car line.” Mr Stadler confirmed at yesterday’s press conference that Audi will launch 17 new or refreshed models in 2014, including its third-generation TT, an all-new Q7 luxury SUV and more S and RS versions of various models including the A1 and A3.

Audi has confirmed that between now and 2018, it will invest about €22 billion ($A34b) in technology and innovations as well as expanding its global manufacturing structures.

In 2013, 1,655,138 million BMW-branded vehicles were sold which was enough to retain its number one position, while Audi shifted 1,575,500 units for an 8.3 per cent increase over its 2012 result and Mercedes-Benz sold 1,460,000 passenger cars for the full 12 months of the year.

Each of the big three luxury brands launched important new models that impacted sales, with Mercedes’ 11 per cent increase in deliveries a result of more interest in the smaller end of its range, including a combined 64 per cent boost for the A-Class and B-Class hatches and incremental growth from its new CLA four-door coupe.

BMW said in a statement earlier this year that its 7.5 per cent lift in sales was thanks to increasing global demand for the still relatively new 3 Series range, which included sedan, wagon and GT body-styles, as well as the X1 compact crossover.

A number of crucial new BMW models arrived last year including the new-generation X5 SUV, the 4 Series Coupe and a facelifted 5 Series.

BMW’s launch calendar is looking pretty hectic this year with the facelifted X3 and X6, the new X4 crossover, M3 and M4 performance twins, 4 Series Convertible and Gran Coupe, 2 Series Coupe and Convertible and the company’s first front-wheel drive model – the 2 Series Active Tourer – all arriving by the end of the year.

The company will also launch its i8 hybrid sportscar, following on from the i3 electric city runabout that went on sale in Europe late last year and is scheduled for wider global roll-out over the coming months.

Mercedes will pick up the pace in 2014 as well, with the all-new C-Class, GLA crossover, facelifted B-Class and S-Class Coupe all expected.

Each of the three auto-makers have vowed to be the top-selling global luxury brands by the end of this decade, with Mercedes planning on releasing 13 completely new models with no predecessor by 2020 in a bid to regain the top spot it lost to BMW in 2005.

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