Mercedes gains ground on BMW as CLA coupe propels October sales

Sales of Mercedes compact cars, including the CLA, rose 73% last month.
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FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- Mercedes-Benz brand gained further ground against larger premium competitors BMW brand and Audi last month as demand for the CLA coupe fueled sales for the automaker's compact models.

Sales at the brand rose 15 percent from a year earlier in October to 126,421 cars and SUVs. That beat 5 percent growth at BMW and a 7 percent gain at Audi.

"Our record sales in October have provided us with a strong start to the fourth quarter, and we have further increased our market share," Ola Kaellenius, Mercedes sales chief, said in a statement last week. "We will continue to rigorously pursue our path of growth."

BMW, Audi and Mercedes are all targeting record global deliveries in 2013, seeking to attract buyers with new vehicles such as the CLA, BMW's 4-series coupe and a new version of Audi's A3 compact. Audi and Mercedes are competing to overtake BMW as the world's biggest luxury-car seller by the end of the decade.

Ten-month sales by Mercedes rose 11 percent to 1.19 million cars and SUVs, the company said on Nov. 6. BMW said today that its namesake brand's deliveries in October totaled 140,057, pushing the 10-month figure up 9 percent to 1.35 million. Audi sold 131,950 vehicles in October, with deliveries in the first 10 months rising 8 percent to 1.31 million.

Mercedes catching up
October sales with % change from year before
BMW brand: 140,057 5%
Audi: 131,950 7%
Mercedes brand: 126,421 15%

10-month sales with % change from year before
BMW brand: 1.35 million 9%
Audi: 1.31 million 8%
Mercedes brand: 1.19 million 11%

Brazilian plants

The three companies are focusing on adding sales in growing auto markets outside Europe to make up for a sixth straight drop in annual industrywide sales in their home region. In addition to expanding production in China, the world's biggest automotive market, they're also taking steps to begin vehicle assembly in Brazil to tap into an increasing number of affluent consumers in South America's biggest economy.

Mercedes will start assembling the C class and GLA models at a new plant in Iracemapolis, Brazil, in 2016. The move will follow BMW's production start next year in Brazil's southern state of Santa Catarina at a plant with capacity to build least 30,000 vehicles annually.

BMW began selling the 4 series, which shares underpinnings with its best-selling 3-series, in September. A new generation of the X5 SUV, built at BMW's plant Spartanburg, South Carolina, is entering dealerships this month. Delivery growth at BMW in the 10 months through October was buoyed by the X1 SUV, the 3 series and the 6-series luxury coupe, the company said today.

"We remain on track with a new all-time high in sales in October and in the first 10 months, despite the continued headwinds in some European markets," Ian Robertson, BMW's head of sales and marketing, said in a statement. "We are confident that sales will continue to develop positively until the end of the year and we will continue to strive for profitable growth."

Audi plans on further gains after the A3 sedan reached the European market in September. The division, the largest contributor to group earnings at parent Volkswagen Group, will begin selling the model in China in the second quarter of 2014. Audi predicts that the car will be the most popular variant of the A3 line, which also includes hatchback and convertible models. A3 sales jumped 33 percent last month, Audi said on Nov. 8.

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