BMW AG defended its position as the world’s top premium car brand in the first three months of the year, buoyed by strong sales of its X5 sport-utility vehicle and 2-Series Active Tourer crossover.
The Munich-based automotive group that includes BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce, stayed ahead of rivals Audi AG, a unit of Volkswagen AG, and Mercedes-Benz, which is owned by Daimler AG, in a tight race for the top spot in the global luxury car industry.
BMW said Tuesday that it sold 451,576 cars with its namesake brand world-wide in the three months to March, an increase of 5.4% from a year earlier. The strongest sales growth was in the U.S., where sales rose 8.4% in the first quarter. BMW brand sales were up 5.8% in Europe and 7.6% in China.
“With the momentum provided by the range of new products we are bringing out this year, I am confident we will achieve our target of delivering more vehicles to customers this year than ever before,” said Ian Robertson, BMW board member in charge of global sales and marketing.
Although BMW defended its lead, it is still growing slower than the competition, allowing Audi and Mercedes to again narrow the gap that separates Germany’s big three luxury car makers.
Audi reported this week that it sold 438,250 cars world-wide in the first three months of the year, an increase of 6.1%, growing nearly 14% in the U.S. on the back of strong sales of its Q5 SUV, and by 10% in Germany, its biggest market.
The fastest-growing luxury brand remains Mercedes-Benz, which sold 429,602 of its namesake brand cars in the first three months of the year, an increase of 14.8% from a year ago. Mercedes benefited more than its rivals from recovery in Europe, where its sales increased 16%, and posted a 16.6% gain in China.