Mercedes taps China to outsell rivals

Mercedes-Benz sold more luxury cars than Audi and BMW in July, as its rising deliveries in China defied a market slowdown there.

Mercedes taps China to outsell rivals

Bolstered by demand for its C-Class sedan and compact cars in China, Daimler’s Mercedes saw global sales rise 15% last month to 149,753 vehicles.

BMW’s namesake brand sold 147,513 vehicles last month, 5.8% more than a year earlier.

Deliveries at Volkswagen’s luxury division Audi rose 1.4% to 146,100 cars.

“Mercedes’s growth in China shows it’s getting closer to regaining the top spot in the world luxury-car market,” said Philippe Houchois, a London-based car analyst for UBS.

The carmaker is reaping the benefits of filling gaps in its portfolio with new models, he said.

China’s decision this week to devalue its currency by the most in two decades to combat its economic slowdown presents a challenge for the three German luxury-car makers.

The policy shift reduces the value of their revenue in the country, the world’s biggest car market. Daimler said the currency devaluation will have a “slight” effect on profit this year, while BMW said it is working to manage its exposure to the fluctuations of the yuan.

Chinese car deliveries fell 2.5% last month to 1.3 million units, the lowest level since February 2014, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Audi’s July sales in the country dropped 13% to 42,267 cars, compared with a 42% jump for Mercedes to 29,540 vehicles. BMW deliveries dropped 7.4% over the period in China to 32,226 cars. “In China, the market situation has remained challenging as expected, exacerbated by the stock market turmoil,” Luca de Meo, Audi’s sales chief, said yesterday.

The slowdown adds pressure to the fight for luxury market share. Audi and Mercedes have both pledged to displace BMW as the world’s best-selling luxury-car brand by the end of the decade.

Mercedes’s seven-month sales increased 15% to 1.05 million car. BMW’s sales for its main brand were 1.08 million vehicles, up 5.2% from a year earlier, while Audi’s sales rose 3.5% to 1.05 million vehicles.

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