Sales of the premium brands: BMW drives away the competition

Status: 11.01.2022 5:16 p.m.

Of the three German premium car manufacturers, BMW again sold the most vehicles last year. On the other hand, the sales figures of Audi and Daimler have shrunk. And Tesla is lurking in the background.

With 2.62 million new registrations, the past year was the worst for the German carmaker since 2010. The premium brands have also suffered setbacks – with the exception of BMW. The Munich-based company was able to sell around 2.2 million cars of the core brand in 2021, almost ten percent more than a year earlier. So the crown goes to the white-blue again. Daimler came in second with a drop in sales of five percent to 2.05 million vehicles, as in the previous year.

Audi has also lost ground due to the chip crisis in the race of the three German premium manufacturers and has to be content with third place again. The Volkswagen subsidiary sold 1.68 million vehicles last year, 0.7 percent less than in the first Corona year 2020.

Slump in the fourth quarter

In the fourth quarter alone, Audi sales collapsed by a good third – even more than the competition in Stuttgart. After the first half of the year, Audi was still on a record course. Audi sales director Hildegard Wortmann spoke of a challenging year: “Although the semiconductor supply will remain tense in the coming months, the strong growth in deliveries of the electric models gives us a tailwind for the further resolute implementation of our roadmap.” At the same time, she referred to the high level of incoming orders and a record order backlog.

The global auto industry has been grappling with semiconductor shortages for over a year. Audi, like other manufacturers, therefore had to stop production again and again. BMW had a better grip on the semiconductor supply. According to analysts, one reason for this is the better relationships the Munich-based company has with its suppliers.

Audi felt the chip bottleneck especially in China: In the People’s Republic, the company sold 701,289 vehicles, 3.6 percent fewer than a year ago. For Europe, Audi reported a minus of 0.4 percent, mainly due to a weakness in the home market of Germany, where it fell by 15.6 percent. In Germany, besides the semiconductor bottleneck, special effects due to a VAT cut in the second half of 2020 also played a role.

Tesla is catching up

In the USA, on the other hand, five percent more cars were handed over to customers. There was also a strong increase in purely electrically powered cars: 81,894 of these vehicles were sold, an increase of 57.5 percent. Audi has announced that it will have more than 20 fully electric models on offer by 2025. In addition, no new combustion engines should come onto the market from 2026.

So far, the German manufacturers have always made the race in the premium segment among themselves. Nothing about this three-way battle has changed in 2021. But the US manufacturer Tesla is on their heels with the strong growth of its e-cars. Analysts are predicting sales of around one and a half million cars this year when the Californians’ first plant in Europe starts up in Grünheide near Berlin.

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