July 8, 2014 at 10:30 pm

BMW has best-ever first half with more than a million sales

BMW sold more than 1M vehicles in the first half of 2014. Above, a BMW M3 sedan during the latest North American International Auto Show. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Washington — BMW AG, Audi of America, Mercedes-Benz USA and Nissan Motor Co.’s luxury unit Infiniti all reported their best-ever first six months of sales, as luxury car sales grew faster than the auto market at large.

German automaker BMW said it sold 1.02 million vehicles worldwide through June 30 — up 6.9 percent. For the first time, it topped 1 million vehicles sold and had its best-ever June with 193,342 vehicles sold, up 4.8 percent.

“This is the first time we’ve sold more than a million cars in the first half of the year and underscores the strength of our premium brands within the BMW Group,” said Ian Robertson, member of the BMW board of management for sales and marketing. He said sales should continue to grow in the second half of the year, when new vehicles like the BMW X4 and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer come onto the market.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported its best first-half sales total in its history at 167,754 vehicles, up 6.8 percent over the same period in 2013.

“We’re breaking records through June, hitting the best second-quarter finish in our history with four new launches still ahead,” said Stephen Cannon, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. “In just two weeks, we’ll start with the launch of our first ‘Electric Mercedes,’ the B-Class Electric Drive.”

BMW-brand sales climbed 10.2 percent in the first half to 886,347. The automaker said it has now sold 5,396 electric vehicles worldwide this year, including 1,241 BMW i3s. BMW said sales of its Mini brand are down 11.4 percent to 131,898.

Audi — Volkswagen AG’s luxury unit — had its best-ever U.S. sales in the first six months of the year. Sales were up 13.6 percent to 84,349.

“In just six months this year, Audi has sold more vehicles in the U.S. than it did over a full year as recently as 2009,” said Mark Del Rosso, Audi of America’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The spring launch of the all-new A3 sedan is the latest building block for this achievement along with the continued success of our sport-utility models and a strengthened presence in the top premium segments.”

Infiniti said it sold a record 101,220 vehicles worldwide in the first six months in 2014, up 30 percent.

Johan de Nysschen, President of Infiniti Motor Company Limited, said, “We continue to transform the organization, strengthen our product portfolio and nurture the brand.”

In the U.S., Infiniti sold about 60,000 vehicles from January to June, a year-over-year increase of 14 percent. That made for its best-ever performance for the period.

Sales of BMW’s Rolls-Royce brand were up 33.4 percent to 1,968.

“At mid-year, the United States had overtaken China as the marque’s largest worldwide market. The company continues to plan for long-term sustainable growth and is on target for another record year in 2014,” BMW said.

The two major U.S. luxury brands — General Motors Co.’s Cadillac unit and Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand — still lag many competitors.

Ford said U.S. Lincoln sales rose by 16.3 percent to 44,522 in the first half of the year but were down 2.7 percent in June.

Cadillac U.S. sales are down 1.9 percent in the first half of the year to 82,117. The company’s Cadillac chief, Bob Ferguson, has been heading up the company’s public policy efforts in Washington.

Last month, Cadillac’s U.S. sales chief resigned. The luxury brand posted U.S. sales gains of nearly 22 percent last year. GM leaders had hoped Cadillac would grow by double-digits this year in the U.S.

dshepardson@detroitnews.com

Sales of luxury Rolls-Royce cars, which cost hundreds of thousands of ... (Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP)