The newly launched Mercedes-Benz C-Class luxury sedan last month sold in greater numbers than traditional ‘volume’ staples such as the Honda Jazz, Mitsubishi Lancer and Nissan Qashqai.
The result topped a mammoth month for the Stuttgart-based brand overall, in which it sold more passenger cars than Ford, Mitsubishi and Honda, and finished overall as the tenth top-selling brand with commercial vehicles included.
Reflecting not just its newness —it launched in late August —but also the continued shift upmarket for the Australian new vehicle landscape at large, Mercedes delivered 862 units of the C-Class during October, a remarkable figure about three times what it managed in October 2013.
It’s also —interestingly —one unit more than the standout 861 units the company sold of the previous-generation car in August 2013.
Further reflecting Mercedes’dominance here, the slinky CLA managed 371 units —more than the 3 Series —in the same segment, a segment of which Benz owned a staggering 54 per cent total.
It’s worth making clear that this figure does not include sales of the C-Class Coupe, which sits in a different segment. Benz delivered 70 of that car, down 23.9 per cent and barely one-third the volume of the BMW 4 Series, but we digress…
It’s also no coincidence that new cars sourced from South Africa soared in October by 102.7 per cent to 1794 units compared to the same month last year. Mercedes sources a majority of its sedan offerings (AMG excluded) from the African nation.
For the year as a whole, the C-Class is down 12.5 per cent to 4381 units, reflective of the fact the company ran short of the old one ahead of the new model launch in August. But it’s still ahead of nearest YTD rivals the 3 Series (3841), IS (2314) and A4 (2291).
The new Benz on the block almost singlehandedly grew the premium mid-sized market as a whole by 35.0 per cent to 2293 units, as compared with the regular sub-$60k mid-sized segment that shrunk by 8.4 per cent. For context, the runner-up here, the Mazda 6, managed only 387 units.
To lend some more context, here are just a few cars the C-Class and its 862 deliveries outdid in October: the Jazz (830), runout Ford Territory (828), Toyota LandCruiser (773), Lancer (727) and Qashqai (714).
Speaking today with CarAdvice, Mercedes-Benz Australia corporate communications chief David McCarthy said the strong sales month —down no doubt to a glut of orders for the new-generation car being delivered —would not be impinged by any supply constraints.
Furthermore, with the new-generation C-Class wagon due this month, the Mercedes-AMG C63 due around May 2015 and the C450 due by the end of next year, the company has sufficient momentum to roll on.
This is all somewhat indicative of the market as a whole, where you see premium brands such as Mercedes-Benz passenger and SUV (2772 units in October, up 53.0 per cent), BMW (1907, up 19.0 per cent) and Audi (1613, up 25.9 per cent) all still on trend with double-digit annual growth rates in an overall depressed market.
The new vehicle market as a whole is down 1.9 per cent YTD, reflecting buyers’increasingly upmarket tastes. This pattern is mirrored across almost all passenger and SUV segments —as we have discussed at length.
Factor in commercial vehicles (vans and trucks) in October and Mercedes’Australian sales grow to 3150, enough to oust the likes of Jeep, Honda and Kia into 10th place on the best-sellers list for the month and 11th for the year.
But even more remarkably, Mercedes-Benz (2248) was the sixth-largest passenger brand in October, ahead of Honda (1973), Mitsubishi (1166) and —remarkably —Ford, which sold just 2062 passenger cars as its focus on the dominating Ranger comes into sharper relief.
Other winners for Mercedes-Benz last month were the segment-leading E-Class with 135 sales (ahead of the runner-up BMW 5 Series on 75 units), S-Class with 37 sales (ahead of the combined Maseratis with 30 units and 7 Series with 3 units) and the GLA crossover (200) outselling the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 with 175 and 145 deliveries apiece.
Finally, for the whole year so far, Benz performance arm AMG has managed 2305 sales, more than Citroen (1066), Chrysler (1562) and Alfa Romeo (2292). This makes it a record year for the Affalterbach tuning house, and it’s done it with the C63 top-seller in runout mode.
However you cut it, the three-pointed star brand’s wares, notably its revitalised C-Class staple, are becoming properly mainstream here. An undoubtedly interesting development.