By on March 12, 2014

2015-Audi-A3-beauty-exterior-005

For the first time this year, BMW loses the best-selling premium brand crown to a rival as Audi squeaks past the Bavarians in the first two months of 2014 to take the title.

Automotive News reports Audi delivered 242,400 units in January and February of this year, 383 more than BMW; at the same time last year, BMW led Audi by 429 units in their nine-year period of dominance over the global premium car market.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler appeared not to be impressed by the news, however, as he noted in the brand’s annual press conference this week:

We’re ahead of our two main rivals in the first two months, but this doesn’t really interest me much. Our focus is on further growth.

Said growth aims to be driven by the introduction of 17 new or revamped models this year — including the A3 sedan roll-out in the United States and China, as well as the refreshed A3 hatchback and TT — as part of a five-year, 22-billion-euro investment in the brand, with goal of surpassing BMW once and for all in global sales by 2020.

BMW sales chief Ian Robertson, for his part, was confident his employer would take back the crown soon enough:

The innovative new models coming out this year, such as the 2-series Active Tourer and 4-series Gran Coupe, will give us the momentum to keep growing in 2014.

The new models will likely help the Bavarians rule the market for a 10th consecutive year, selling a projected 1.77 million units in 2014 over Audi’s 1.66 million and Mercedes’s 1.56 million according to IHS Automotive. However, previous reports indicate that the United States will not receive the 2-Series Active Tourer, which is taking heat for its front-drive layout.

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43 Comments on “Audi Takes Lead From BMW In Global Premium Car Sales...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “…but this doesn’t really interest me much.”

    That’s sort of like this article. They outsold BMW – for the first time this year – in the first two months of the year. Not really saying much. It would be different if we were in November or December.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Globally, Audi used to be a distant third.

      Then it was a solid second place contender, behind BMW.

      Now, it’s in contention to take the lead.

      This is a fairly dramatic shift, and one worth noting.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        And that’s largely due to the China market and Audi selling more lower end models in Europe.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          The bulk of the sales volume for all three is in the 3-series/A4/C-class category — and increasing in the 1-series/A3/CLA-class.

          Larger cars have less volume though they are highly profitable.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            But at the same time, in NA, BMW and MB sell a lot more 5 Series/E Class and 7 Series/S Class than Audi does the A6 and A8.

            And for a higher price as well – see MSRP of A7 vs. the 6 Series Gran Coupe.

  • avatar
    automaniak

    Audi running for volume, Audi top seller in China, Audi with million different models. Really impressing.

    Are they still premium ?

    • 0 avatar

      > Audi running for volume, Audi top seller in China, Audi with million different models. Really impressing.

      Even in china it’s the choice of nouveau riche d-bags along with bmw. Shiit’s global:

      http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/AM-BA007_CMERCE_NS_20130827124507.jpg

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Those “wrong wheel drive” arguments are growing weaker by the day, or at least by the quarter.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      Because of course that’s the only factor at work here…

      Audi is simply building more handsome cars than BMW. They’re winning in spite of FWD, not because of it.

      • 0 avatar

        Design is awfully important, while which wheels drive the car simply isn’t.

        • 0 avatar
          Master Baiter

          It’s important to me. I don’t care for the torque steer, CV joint failures or the front weight bias that comes with FWD. It’s a compromise done purely to save cost. Doesn’t mean every RWD vehicle is better than every FWD vehicle, but, all other things being equal, RWD is better.

          (I’ll concede that traction in the snow is better in FWD, if you care about such things.)

          • 0 avatar

            FWD also frees up a lot of space. Important in smaller cars.

            Anyways, I’m not saying it’s not important to some people, but I am saying that, rightly or wrongly, the number of people this is important to is very small. That’s why, specially with the smaller cars, FWD is here to stay.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I doubt that the average driver knows the difference between rear-wheel drive and a Ferris wheel.

        And among those who do know, many will know that each has its advantages and disadvantages, and that there is no Great Debate that requires that a side be chosen.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Audi’s lineup has a lower starting MSRP and Audi does not offer the A7 and A8 here in FWD configuration – there’s a reason for that.

  • avatar

    Audi is the new wankermobile, really rocking that douche swing vote.

    • 0 avatar
      jettaGL

      Truth spoken, audi has a massive influx of the worst types. I will not consider the brand when I replace my A6. don’t want to be associated with the new image.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      Really? Based on what I see in southern Ontario, BMW seems to be the hemorrhoid car (every a**hole gets one).

      Not to say that every BMW owner is an a**hole. Just that the a**holes seem to exhibit a distinct preference for BMWs.

      • 0 avatar

        > Not to say that every BMW owner is an a**hole. Just that the a**holes seem to exhibit a distinct preference for BMWs.

        True, but they be like voters swinging from one brand named after someone to another: Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole as long as they got popable collars. If ford started calling it their Fall Lineup by Henry Ford with an adjustable spoiler they’d be rolling that dough.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      Is a douche anyone who makes more money than you?

      • 0 avatar

        > Is a douche anyone who makes more money than you?

        A douche is that guy in the Audi who cut me off to get one car ahead.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          While BMWs and Audis doing that are noticable, there are plenty of people doing it while driving Fords, Chevys, Dodges, Hondas etc. And for any given brand, the number of idiot drivers is still a small minority.

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          We’re not all that way. I drive an A6 wagon, and am one of the most calm drivers on the road.

          Come to think of it, almost every close call I’ve ever been in seems to involve teenagers in Pontiacs, or old Subarus.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    A 0.16% sales lead after 1/6 of the year is newsworthy?

  • avatar
    WolfgangGullich

    Just overpriced VWs with 4 rings on the grille. In 5 years when everything starts breaking (like any good Volkswagen will), those Audi buyers will flock back to BMW and Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      They’re used to it. It’s not like BMW or Mercedes cars are trouble-free either.

      The more I think about owning any German vehicle, the more I wind up looking at Lexuses and Acuras.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    When will Audi, BMW and especially Mercedes be re categorized as generic car manufacturers. Their combined dive down in premiumness in pursuit of volume means that only a small subset of their models should be considered “luxury” vehicles. Otherwise, let’s call Volswagen a premium manufacturer because they make (made) Phaetons or Lamborghinis.

    • 0 avatar

      Good question. I guess my answer would be when the market determines it. In most people minds these cars mean luxury so they are. Maybe some day that’ll change.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      “Premium” means people are willing to pay more for brand X compared to another brand (with similar size and equipment level). So we should stop calling them “premium” once they have to drop their prices and can no longer extract premium pricing.

      An Audi A1, for example, may be very small, but it is premium-priced over the similarly-sized VW Polo.

      Don’t think “luxury”, think “premium” and this should all become much more clear and logical.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Spike in Brisbane
      I do think there is a transition occurring right now. As the quality of vehicles improves the prestige manufacturers are finding the gap between a mainstream car and one of their prestige cars is narrowing.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      If they continue to offer expensive flagships and avoid the bottom, then they should be fine. If they begin to offer a BMW Zero-series slotted below the 1 or a Mercedes not-quite-an-A class, then yes, they’ll have lost the plot.

      VAG has the advantage of having well-established mainstream brands slotted below Audi. BMW has only a niche brand (MINI), while Daimler has the not-so-brilliant Smart.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      While MB only sells the Sprinter van here, over in Europe and other markets, you’ll see a wide variety of commercial vans and trucks.

      I don’t know if a garbage truck with the Tri-star badge screams luxury.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Premium used to mean built-in GPS and Bluetooth. Now everyone has that. Premium is about ride, power, handling, quality of the engineering and quality of the materials. Just because a Kia has a long checklist of features doesn’t make it premium.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This doesn’t surprise me.

    VW stated a couple of years ago it will become the worlds largest auto manufacturer.

    I don’t doubt they will.

  • avatar
    dig

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingolstadt

    Audi is not beating the “Bavarians” as they are Bavarian. Just sayin’

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Why do Audis inspire such hateful comments? Have you guys even driven one? They are really pretty nice cars.

  • avatar
    cartoon

    For the past 20+ years I have owned BMWs and Fords (both large and small for both brands)–simultaneously. From my experience, there is a world of difference between the two in terms of: driving dymanics, fit & finish, paint, squeaks & rattles, bluetooth and other electronic interfaces, gas efficiency (eg- my X5 3.5 gets 30 mpg on the highway),dealer experience, etc. There are reasons, beyond the badge, that these are called premium cars. Bottom line: you get what you pay for.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Dealership experience is one of those things that doesn’t get talked about too much but is a big factor for me. (Another one: Do a car’s sight lines, seats, and controls work with my particular body? Some cars, even if they’re objectively great, don’t work for some buyers.) I absolutely would shop for an ES at my local Lexus dealership before I’d look at a Camry or an Avalon. The Lexus dealer skews smarmy but generally does things the right way. The Toyota dealer, on the other hand, is outright shady. Generally I prefer things that are simpler and less expensive, but the dealership experience would sway me in that case.

      Similarly, the Chevy-Buick dealership in the small town where my mom grew up is fantastic. The same family has owned it for decades and has a justifiable reputation for honesty and attentiveness. GM would have the inside track if I lived there and were shopping for a new car.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Audi are really nice cars, but too expensive.
    You neeed a big wallet to buy one, and you need to save a large sum when someting goes wrong. But that also goes for Mercedes. I think BMW is more reliable, but then we have the douchebags that usually tras….drives them.

    The biggest reason for Audis success is design.


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