The German Big Three are moving lots of high-priced iron these days. And you know who’s buying? China, of course—and those in the U.S. no longer embarrassed to be seen driving a Deutsch land-yacht during a time of economic dislocation.
Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen/Audi all reported new sales records for the first quarter of 2011. Selling 165,842 cars, BMW had its best-ever three-month period with growth of 21.3 percent.
Audi had the best quarter in its history, with sales of 312,600 cars, an 18.4 percent jump. Daimler reported 280,500 Mercedes-Benz cars sold (a 12.7 percent gain). And, lo and behold, Smart cars are selling, too: 25,000 in the first quarter, a 9.8 percent gain.
So Audi is beating out Daimler but, said one analyst, “the large lead it historically enjoyed over its German competition is waning,” while BMW predicts sales of over 1.5 million units this year.
The reason for this German luxo boom is simple: They make better cars.
Consider BMW’s 535d, for example (which may finally come to the U.S.). According to The Diesel Driver, the 5 Series sedans account for 50 percent of the company’s profit! The 535d has a “silky smooth” 3-liter twin turbo making 300 hp and getting you to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds in super comfort and convenience. Add to that its fuel efficiency and the fact that “it’s a blast to drive,” and there are very few sporty diesel sedans that can compare.
The Audi A6 (right) has been a big success, and in Europe, says TopGear, it plays against the 5 Series and the Benz E-Class: “the perennial European grudge match in company cars for those who’ve made their way to an above-average altitude up the corporate greasy pole.”
I am not crazy about Audi styling, but that opinion seems to have made no impact on sales.
Finally, Daimler claims it’s going to sell 1.3 million cars this year and is fleshing out its smaller-car lineup with a revamped M-Class SUV and a new B-Class compact. The company also makes big money from its truck business around the world.
Who’s going to win the luxo war in the U.S.—Audi, BMW or Mercedes?