BMW China Sales Soar 39%, Passes Mercedes, Buries Cadillac and Lincoln

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Germany’s BMW topped its chief rivals Daimler and Volkswagen in unit sales in China for the month of April. Sales of BMW and Mini vehicles rose 39% to 48,869 in April, according to a Tuesday report at Automotive News.

Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand rose a significant 35% to unit sales of 47,627 units in April, while VW’s Audi division saw a sales decline of 6.9% to 46,166 vehicles. The report noted that Audi sales are suffering due to a dispute with its dealers over the company’s proposed new distribution network.

Data is not yet available for General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Cadillac sales in China for the month of April. In March, Cadillac sold 11,281 units, nearly double the March 2016 total. Cadillac sales reached a four-year peak of more than 16,000 units sold in January of this year.

Earlier this month Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) reported April unit sales of 4,533 Lincoln-brand luxury cars in China, a gain of 95% year over year. Year to date, Lincoln sales in China have more than doubled this year.

BMW and Mercedes both report sales in China that are an order of magnitude higher than Lincoln sales and four times higher than Cadillac sales.

Both German car makers also outsell Cadillac and Lincoln brands by a wide margin in the United States. U.S. April sales of Mercedes-brand vehicles totaled 29,125, a decline of 8.5% compared with April 2016. BMW sold 22,624 units in April, down 9.3% year over year, and Audi sold 18,711 units, up 7.7%. Cadillac sold 12,300 units in April, down 1.3% year over year, and Lincoln sold 9,691 units, up 6%.

Sales of U.S.-branded luxury cars in Europe is minuscule. Figures for sales in the European Union, released earlier Tuesday, show Mercedes with year-to-date unit sales of 264,554 for its luxury cars, compared to BMW’s total of 261,851 units sold. In April, Mercedes outsold BMW by 77,277 units to 75,965 units. Audi sold more than 67,000 units in Europe last month and has sold a total of 282,953 units for the year to date, more than either Mercedes or BMW.

What this all adds up to is that success in China is likely to determine whether the Cadillac and Lincoln brands have a future. Sales are growing for both brands, but they start from a deep hole. And BMW, at least, is not standing still. According to Automotive News, the company plans over the next five years to double its production capacity in China to more than 600,000 light vehicles.