By on December 16, 2009

Real Bentley, fake … Picture courtesy

It’s a strange world. Europeans are changing their already small cars for tiny ones. Manufacturers fall over themselves building ever smaller and cheaper cars. In the USA, small cars are suddenly big. Ford’s analyst George Pipas says that this year, small cars accounted for 21 percent of all U.S. vehicle sales. By 2013, Pipas predicts that compact cars, subcompact cars and crossover vehicles built off small car platforms will account for 36 percent of total new vehicle sales in the United States. Car executives that still have a job bemoan the times where big cars meant big profits.

A new frugality is rampant on the globe. Makers of luxo-barges, such as BMW and Mercedes are in big doo-doo.

They would be in much deeper excrement, would it not be for – China. For November, Mercedes, Audi, and BMW all reported huge increases in car sales to China. Mercedes-Benz said it posted record sales in China. China has become the fourth-largest market for Mercedes. A total of 8,700 passenger cars were delivered in China in November, nearly three times the number sold in the same month a year ago. Sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles to other former poorhouses are up also: Up 81 percent in Brazil, up 25 percent in India.

Audi sales in China more than doubled to 16,503 cars in November. Audi thinks, China will pass Germany as its largest market within two or three years. In November, BMW sold 8,470 cars in the Middle Kingdom, up 40 percent.

BMW and Mercedes are moving more production to China. BMW is building a second plant with the Chinese joint venture partner Brilliance. Daimler also announced that they will triple their Chinese capacity.

Yale Zhang, a senior Shanghai-based analyst with U.S. consulting firm CSM Worldwide, said to the Wall Street Journal he expects China’s premium-car segment to grow 26 percent to 315,000 vehicles next year.

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7 Comments on “China Saves Bacon Of Luxury Car Makers...”

  • avatar

    Hm.  Does MB now produce these in Brazil or are people there getting a LOT richer?
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in there in 10-15 trips.

  • avatar

    I’ve been to Brazil 3 times and the MB I saw most often a small van bigger than a Mazda 3, but not by much. I don’t remember the MB designation. Of course they could be talking about MB trucks and buses, and boy does Brazil have a lot of trucks and buses.

  • avatar

    The Audi numbers seem accurate.  I’ve never seen such a proliferation of A6s in all my life as seen in Beijing (after being nearly struck by several during my visit).   I was surprised because my expection was to see the city full of Buicks.

  • avatar

    Brifol5: If you want to wade in Buicks (and Santanas) you need to go to Shanghai.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    I read recently that MB sold 2.435 cars in Brazil between January and July this year. 1.673 were sold last year during the same period. So, yes, there is an increase but these numbers are, what, equivalent of how many cars were sold in Los Angeles alone in a couple of months?

    The luxury car market in Brazil is nothing compared to China. Bankers in São Paulo, artists and soccer players in Rio and politicians in Brasilia. And that’s it except for a few soy and sugar cane  farmers here and there. And they live in São Paulo anyway.

    MB has a factory in São José dos Campos in São Paulo. It’s been there since the early 50’s building all the MB trucks and buses you see everywhere. They own the truck chassis market & this is their bread & butter.

    THEN there is the fiasco few talk about, their plant in Juiz de Fora, near Rio. This semi-defunct plant is a reminder of the DaimlerChrysler Halcyon days. It is a three-shift factory with a capacity of 70K + cars/year, built in ’99 to assemble the A class for sale in Brazil and the rest of the world. And sell it did not. I think they had visions of MB doing what VW did in the 50’s with the bug in Brazil and Mexico. Who knows. The investment is probably a big blob or red ink in someone’s excel spreadsheet in Germany but it is quite a sight when you drive from Rio to Belo Horizonte on the main highway BR-40. They keep the tall grass at bay, but ask any waiter at any of the myriad of local restaurants built to cater to the German hordes earlier in the decade and they will tell you business is dead and has been dead for years.

    For a while last year they built the C class CLC model on a CKD basis for export. Everything was shipped from Germany to Brazil… uncrated and assembled into a car and then left to cook on a open lot under the tropical sun and rain waiting for a car carrier to be taken to the port to be shipped back to…Germany. Weird way to build a German car for the European market if you ask me, but I’m no expert in logistics and costs. They must know better.

  • avatar

    Robstar, people are getting relatively richer as the Real has increased in value against the Euro. You will have to search how much is the change; against the Dollar it was around 25%. Also the world economic crisis didn’t hit us as badly (not all for many).

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