18 3 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Audi and Mercedes-Benz both outsold BMW in January, bumping the world’s best-selling luxury car brand from its perch for the month.

Audi, the second-biggest luxury brand globally last year, took the top spot for the first time since June 2014 as January sales rose 10 percent to 137,700 vehicles. Daimler AG’s Mercedes, which was No. 3, delivered 125,865 cars, a 14 percent jump as it outsold its Munich-based rival for the first time since September 2010. BMW AG’s namesake brand increased sales 6.3 percent to 124,561 cars.

“This looks like a pretty significant decline in growth compared to Mercedes and Audi,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. “I think this will continue during the next few months.”

BMW, the biggest maker of luxury cars since 2005, is under increasing pressure as models like the 7-Series sedan and X3 SUV age. Both Mercedes and Audi have vowed to take the luxury sales crown by 2020. To underpin its effort, Volkswagen AG’s Audi plans to spend 24 billion euros ($27 billion) on new models and expanding production in the next five years. Mercedes is rolling out the new GLE coupe crossover this year to challenge the BMW X6 as the Daimler unit refreshes most of its sport-utility vehicles.

China woes

BMW struggled chiefly in China, where its dealers halted orders over a dispute about sales targets and bonuses. Including Mini models, the carmaker’s sales in the world’s largest market rose 7.9 percent, compared with gains of about 15 percent by Audi and Mercedes.

Still, BMW plans to fight back. It’s targeting a fifth consecutive record in annual deliveries backed by new offerings including a convertible version of the 2-Series compact and an upgraded X6.

“There are a number of very exciting model launches coming up this year,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, said today in a statement. “We are aiming for further growth in 2015, despite still-challenging economic conditions in some markets.”

Read or Share this story: http://detne.ws/1DepxJK