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Hamburg / Mnchen (Reuters) – The robust business in China has mitigated the corona slump among German car manufacturers.
Last year, BMW sold a good 2.3 million cars worldwide, 8.4 percent fewer than in the previous year, after the group had feared a decline of around ten percent in December. In the fourth quarter there was even a 3.2 percent increase in sales for the brands BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce, as the company announced on Tuesday. This means that the Munich-based company performed better in the final quarter than its Stuttgart rival Daimler, whose sales in the passenger car sector fell by 1.8 percent in the same period. The VW subsidiary Audi even posted record sales in China between October and December, thereby limiting the declines in Europe and the USA.
“In the pandemic, premium is better than mass,” said Frank Schwope from NordLB. He referred to the sometimes significantly higher sales losses of volume manufacturers. At Renault, for example, sales slumped by more than a fifth last year because the French carmaker has no comparable business in China. Overall, BMW sold a good 777,000 cars in China last year, 7.4 percent more. With that, Bayern hit almost every third of their vehicles there. Daimler even increased there by almost twelve percent to around 774,000 vehicles. Worldwide, with 2.164 million vehicles last year, Mercedes-Benz was ahead of its permanent rival in Munich, whose BMW brand sold around 140,000 fewer vehicles.
TWO SIDES OF THE MEDAL
In the opinion of experts, the strong sales on the world’s largest car market also have negative sides, because the car manufacturers are even more dependent on the business there. In the short term, however, everyone benefits. In China, for example, Volkswagen has launched more than half of its brand’s vehicles with the VW logo. Last year, however, the Wolfsburg-based deliveries there fell by almost ten percent to 2.8 million units. In other regions the decline was significantly higher: In Western Europe, for example, VW sold 23.4 percent less than in the previous year, in South America it was minus 20 percent and in North America the decrease was 17 percent. Worldwide deliveries by VW fell by 15 percent to 5.3 million units.
After the terrible year 2020, manufacturers are optimistic about the current year and hope that the pandemic can be overcome with the vaccinations. The situation remains challenging, said Audi sales director Hildegard Wortmann. “Nevertheless, we have set ourselves ambitious goals for 2021, we want to continue growing and look confidently to the future,” she added.
The eyes are again directed to China, where manufacturers are betting on further growth – provided the corona virus does not break out again. The fight for a piece of profitable car cake in China is likely to get fiercer, especially since Tesla is attacking the dominance of German manufacturers in the important car market. The US electric car maker wants to bring its new Model Y to the market for the equivalent of 43,000 euros – about ten percent below that of the comparable combustion models Audi Q5, BMW X3 or Mercedes GLC. The gap becomes even bigger in comparison with the direct electric competitor model EQC from Daimler, which costs around 20,000 euros more than the Model Y. It is therefore eagerly anticipated at what price VW will launch its electric SUV ID.4 which will also be sold in China.