BMW fends off Audi to keep top spot in luxury autos image

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG fended off Volkswagen AG’s Audi in the first quarter to retain its position as the world’s largest maker of luxury cars.
The BMW brand delivered 265,809 autos in the three months through March, an increase of 14 percent, the Munich-based company said in a statement today. BMW recovered from a 10 percent decline in sales last year and is seeking a further boost from the revamped 5 Series sedan, introduced last month.

“We are back on our growth track in nearly all the automobile markets,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, said in the statement. “We intend to continue improving on last year’s figures throughout the second quarter.”

Audi, which surpassed Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz in quarterly sales for the first time in the period, narrowed its gap to the BMW brand to 1,709 autos in the first quarter from 23,733 a year earlier, according to figures from the companies.

The VW unit, which aims to be the top luxury-car maker by 2015, increased car sales faster than BMW in markets such as China, the U.S. and the U.K.

Chinese deliveries rose by 22,439 to 51,449 at Audi, with BMW’s increasing to 34,179. In the U.S., BMW’s total increased by 7.4 percent to 55,051 as Audi’s surged by 35 percent to 21,315. U.K. sales climbed by 14 percent to 34,327 at BMW and by 21 percent to 30,671 at Audi.

BMW deliveries rose faster in Spain, surging 37 percent to 10,374 compared with a 25 percent gain at Audi to 11,194.

Including the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, BMW’s sales increased by 14 percent to 315,614 cars and SUVs.