BMW Maintains lead over rivals Audi, Mercedes but it’s shrinking

BMW Group’s core brand outsold rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz in September thanks to strong demand in Europe, but the gap between the three luxury car brands has narrowed this year in a fierce sales race.

BMW said that sales of its namesake brand rose 6 percent last month to 167,584, beating its two competitors. Audi sales rose 6 percent to 159,950 in the same period, while Mercedes’ brand jumped 14 percent to 162,746.

BMW has seen its overall advantage over Audi shrink to 20,842 cars after nine months of 2014, compared with 28,836 at the same time a year ago. The year-to-date gap between BMW and third-placed Mercedes has shrunk to 124,336 vehicles from 146,946 autos in 2013, due to new model releases from Mercedes.

Mercedes is enjoying strong demand for a series of redesigned cars, including the E class and the flagship S-class sedan. The brand also launched a new C class and the GLA compact SUV in March, paving the way for further improvement in the remainder of the year.

BMW is heading for a 10th straight year as global luxury-sales market leader but the ranking in the three-way German luxury sales battle is unlikely to change any time soon, research firm IHS Automotive said.

Deliveries of BMW brand cars may jump 23 percent to 2.04 million models by 2019 from an estimated 1.66 million this year, according to IHS. By comparison, sales may rise 16 percent at Audi to 1.91 million and 12 percent at Mercedes to 1.67 million, IHS said.

Both Mercedes and Audi have vowed to overtake BMW in premium global sales by the end of the decade. Last year, BMW brand sold 1.66 million vehicles, followed by Audi with 1.58 million and Mercedes with 1.46 million.

BMW said Friday nine-month brand sales were up 9 percent to 1.32 million vehicles. Group deliveries, including the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, rose 6.5 percent to a record 1.53 million vehicles.