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VFACTS: Old Mercedes tops luxury car sales chart

Class act: The C-Class was the standout performer in Mercedes-Benz’s passenger car line-up, despite being due for replacement midway through this year.

C-Class shows luxury cars can age gracefully, as Benz wins luxury car sales battle

10 Jan 2014

UPDATED: 17/01/2014ONE of the oldest vehicles in Mercedes-Benz’s passenger car line-up has helped the brand stamp its authority as Australia’s best-selling luxury marque.

The C-Class, launched in Australia in 2007, is slated for replacement mid-year with an all-new model. Even so, the current vehicle remained the brand’s standout performer last year, shifting 5963 units for the German luxury brand’s total of 23,106 passenger car and SUV sales in 2013.

Make that 23,417 units if sales of the Viano people-mover, the only commercial vehicle to feature in the showroom alongside cars and SUVs, are pitched in – and a record 27,547 when the full range of light and heavy commercials is counted (up 23 per cent on 2012).

In comparison, BMW finished the year with 20,522 new registrations (up 11.5 per cent on 2012 for another record-high annual result), while Audi racked up its ninth consecutive year of growth with a record 16,009 sales – up 10 per cent on the previous year and passing its ‘Route 15’ target of 15,000 sales, two years ahead of schedule.

Although C-Class sales were actually down 10.7 per cent last year compared to 2012, Mercedes-Benz general manger of passenger car sales, Richard Emery, highlighted its top-selling model’s six full years of segment leadership.

“And it was in fact the third best-selling medium car in the market regardless of segment in 2013,” Mr Emery added.

Mercedes’ passenger car and SUV result sees it take back its luxury car sales crown from BMW, which has dominated the charts over the past two decades.

While the seven-year-old C-Class was a major contributor to the Mercedes’ best overall result in its 55-year history in Australia, it was the three-pointed star brand’s small-car range that helped cement its position at the head of the pack, with strong sales of its second-generation B-Class hatchback and its completely redesigned A-Class city car.

Combined, the duo accounted for almost three out of every 10 Mercedes-Benz-badged cars rolling out of showrooms in 2013, with 3218 A-Classes sold and, despite little promotion, 3248 examples of the B-Class.

Another highlight for Mercedes-Benz was the strength of its AMG performance brand, which attracted 1649 sales for the year – a record for the company, and representing seven per cent of the brand’s tally.

Similar to the C-Class, BMW’s 3 Series mid-size range was again the brand’s biggest seller, moving 5562 units in 2013.

Unlike Mercedes, though, BMW’s result was cemented by its X5 mid-size SUV, which was updated last year and attracted 3302 sales to give it the status as the brand’s second-strongest selling model.

BMW’s compact soft-roaders, the 3 Series-based X1 and the slightly larger X3, and the German brand’s city-friendly 1 Series hatchback and sedan range also produced solid figures, accounting for a combined 7274 sales.

BMW Australia general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher said even though it struggled to meet market demand for its X1, X3 and X5 models, and variants of the 1 Series, the brand’s 11.5 percent growth rate in 2013 was good.

“I do know we met all of our targets for the year,” she said. “We’ve certainly seen stronger demand for some models than we’ve been able to supply, but we see that as a sign that we have a very healthy market for BMW cars.”

Over at Audi, the Q5 mid-size soft-roader remained the brand’s strongest-selling model, with 3044 units – representing one in every five Audi-badged sales – leaving showrooms after a mild facelift for the SUV in late 2012.

The A4 small car range added a significant volume to overall sales for the brand despite showing a softer result when compared with 2012, with sales of the Q3 compact soft-roader growing numbers and the A3 hatchback both growing significantly.

Toyota’s Lexus luxury car brand grew its sales marginally to 6920 units in 2013, helped by strong sales of its radically restyled, Mercedes-Benz C-Class rivalling IS small car range.

The all-new IS accounted for 2843 sales– two out of every five sales for the brand – while its RX mid-size soft-roader range was the second-best performing with 2188 units moved.

Relative newcomer, Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti, posted 304 sales in 2013 – fewer than one car a day for its first full calendar year on sale. Its performance was led by the FX mid-size soft-roader, which accounted for 187 units – three out of every five deliveries.

The only other models on offer in Infiniti’s showrooms are the C-Class rivalling G Series coupe and convertible, and the E-Class rivalling M mid-size sedan.

However, the brand is anticipating sales growth from its all-new Q50 mid-size sedan – a direct rival for the C-Class, 3 Series, A4 and IS et al – which reaches showrooms next month, priced from a highly competitive $51,900.

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