The race to be the world’s best luxury brand is nothing new, everyone wants to be number one. Audi and Mercedes-Benz are closely running with BMW in volume sales, profitability, admirable cars and innovative technologies. Taking the lead in one category or in one country is fairy simple, however makers continue to strive to be the best in the world as well as all categories.
Going solely by unit sales, BMW has been in the lead since 2005 when it surpassed Mercedes. Audi them surpassed Mercedes again in 2011. This boost to Audi was due in large part to notable growth in China where Audi has been the luxury leader for many years.
When it comes to profits, Audi is the leader. When it comes to profit margins things become murky; each brand owns many sub-brands which can quickly make or break a profit margin. BMW had a higher profit overall, but Audi had a higher operating profit; making them the winners. Audi contributes much of their success in profits to the A6 and A4 models. Mercedes did not have a chance in this category due to high spending in designing and building new models. Their profits dropped nearly two percent and are expected to recover in the next few years.
In terms of revenues from sub-brands, BMW was the leader with over 90 billion USD, from their divisions, including Mini and Rolls-Royce. Mercedes gained just short of 80 billion with their Smart division and coming in last in the sub divisions was Audi, a meager 62 billion for their brands including Lamborghini.
Despite poor subdivision sales, the overall brand has done well enough that they are placing 14 billion dollars into new products between 2012 and 2015, which is the largest investment in the brands history. Audi is also going to increase its production capacity through an expansion is Gyor and a new plant in Foshan which will increase production by over 300,000 units.
Choosing a clear cut winner of in the luxury market depends on many factors and one brand will probably never hold all the facets of best luxury car. IHS Automotive predicts that BMW will remain the general leader due in part to its stream of new products being designed and released in the coming years.
Audi will most likely continue to trail behind BMW despite their innovative designs and burgeoning sales. They will continue to lead in specific countries, but as for the worldwide leader in luxury car sale, the race will remain close. IHS predicts little change until well after 2020.