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Mercedes-Benz's sales growth beats rivals
Aggregated Source: Shanghai Daily: Business

DAIMLER AG's Mercedes-Benz brand beat sales growth at larger German luxury-carmaking competitors Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Audi AG last month as new versions of its A- and B-Class compacts attracted buyers.

Deliveries by Stuttgart-based Mercedes jumped 12 percent from a year earlier to 116,566 cars and sport-utility vehicles in April. Sales at Munich-based BMW's namesake brand rose 7.5 percent to 130,598 cars and SUVs, while deliveries at Volkswagen AG's Audi division increased 6.6 percent to 133,500, according to data from the manufacturers.

Daimler has a target by the end of this decade of regaining the top spot in luxury car sales that it lost to BMW eight years ago. It's also working to overtake Audi, which has ranked second in the industry since 2011. Mercedes reworked the A-Class last year into a sportier model to compete with BMW's 1-Series and Audi's A3.

"I expect Mercedes to catch up somewhat with BMW and Audi in the second half of the year, mainly due to demand for the compact models and the E-Class" upscale vehicles, said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Bankhaus Metzler.

BMW's four-month deliveries sped at a faster rate than at its two main competitors, with a 7.1 percent jump to 512,000 cars and SUVs versus Audi's 6.7 percent gain to 503,000 deliveries and 5.6 percent growth to 441,464 at Mercedes.

BMW's sales momentum "will continue as we add new vehicles throughout the year to our very attractive product line-up, such as the new BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo," Ian Robertson, the carmaker's sales chief, said in a statement yesterday. Sales were helped by growth of 2.8 percent in Europe last month and "strong gains" in Asia and the Americas.

The German luxury-car makers, all of which are targeting sales increases this year, have fared better than Europe's mass-market auto manufacturers as rising demand in China and the US offsets a sixth straight year of industry-wide declines in their home region.

"We remain buyers of premium autos and sellers of mass makers" in terms of shares, Erich Hauser, a London-based analyst at Credit Suisse said on Friday in a report to clients. "The companies most likely to see a recovery in demand in the second half of 2013 will once again be premium players."

BMW's sales growth last month was propelled by a 15 percent jump in demand for the X1 SUV to 11,837 vehicles and 16 percent gain for the 3-Series to 38,491 cars, driven by the introduction of the revamped wagon version.

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