Mercedes-Benz has boosted sales twice as fast as BMW in the first quarter, moving closer to clinching the lead in the world’s luxury-car market for the first time in a decade.
The Daimler unit’s deliveries soared 13% to 483,487 vehicles in the three months through March, compared with a 6% rise to 478,743 cars for the BMW brand. Sales of compact cars such as the A-Class hatchback rose 26% to more than 150,000, Mercedes said.
Volkswagen’s Audi ranked third at 455,750 vehicles sold, a gain of 4% from a year earlier. Buoyed by the popularity of all-new models such as the GLC sport utility vehicle, Mercedes is on course to overtake BMW in annual sales earlier than its 2020 target.
The Daimler division expects sales momentum to accelerate in the second half of 2016, with the revamped E-class sedan hitting showrooms. BMW has an older product lineup by comparison, with key models including its E-class equivalent, the 5-series sedan, not due for a refresh until next year.
In addition to its rivalry with Mercedes and Audi for the top rank in the luxury-car market, BMW is seeking to respond to challenges from Apple and Tesla Motors.
That is prompting the German manufacturer to invest in technology including plans for a self-driving electric car.