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BMW Australia’s boss says the time will soon be right for a strike back against Mercedes-Benz as the Bavarian brand seeks to reclaim the number one spot in the highly-competitive luxury segment.

Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the BMW 1 Series in Brisbane this week, BMW Australia’s chief, Marc Heinrich Werner, emphasised his brand’s strong history and credentials in Australia.

“Ultimately we all want to be number one, right?” Werner told CarAdvice.

“That’s also true for BMW and we have been number one for a number of years in this country [before], but it’s also about product life cycles and obviously Mercedes might have the advantage there [at the moment].”

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In 2014 Mercedes-Benz sold 31,895 vehicles in Australia, followed by 22,722 for BMW and Audi in third place with 19,227.

So far this year (Jan-May) the sales gap from BMW to Mercedes-Benz sits at 4440 units while Audi is just 660 units behind BMW.

In BMW’s defence, in recent years both Audi and Mercedes-Benz have gained significant volume from their small car offerings (as well as the ever-popular C-Class in Mercedes’ case), a segment that BMW has not been as strong in.

“With all the products that we are launching now, particularly in the small car segment where arguably the biggest volume opportunity is, we are in a very good position to strike back and then it’s just a question of time.”

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This year is shaping up to be an important year of product released from BMW with a range of new small vehicles, as well as the flagship (but low volume) 7 Series expected late this year.

“We have started in our small car offensive in December last year with the launch of the 2 Series Active Tourer and we have the 2 Series convertible which we launched at the end of February, now in June it’s the all-new 1 series and in October this year it will be the all new X1 which will be fantastic.”

The risk to BMW closing the sales gap remains the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz medium-sized SUV, the upcoming GLC. That segment currently remains in control of BMW with the X3 and X4 since Mercedes-Benz does not offer a vehicle in that category (due to the right-hand drive unavailability of the current Mercedes-Benz GLK). Nonetheless, Werner says X3 could do even better if not for supply issues.

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“We are very, very happy with our X3 performance, as a matter of fact we could probably sell a couple of hundred more if we had supply. It’s all supply related.”

Audi also has ambitions to be the number one luxury brand in Australia, which should mean great competition and better offerings for consumers all around.

BMW has been the number one luxury manufacturer globally since 2005, with the Munich-based brand even taking the mantle of the best selling luxury brand in the all-important American market from Mercedes-Benz in 2014.




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