BMW Clings to Luxury-Sales Crown as Mercedes-Benz Narrows Gap

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(Bloomberg) — BMW AG outsold rival Mercedes-Benz AG for the second year in a row by better navigating the supply-chain issues hampering global auto production.

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Worldwide deliveries of BMW-branded cars fell 5% to 2.1 million last year, edging out Mercedes, whose shipments slipped 1% to 2.04 million. While both brands grew sales in the final months of 2022, they couldn’t compensate for business lost during the first half, when parts shortages and the war in Ukraine crimped output.

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Carmakers have more recently faced intensifying headwinds including soaring energy and borrowing costs. Tesla Inc. shares plummeted amid concerns over demand in China, the biggest auto market, where domestic players BYD Co., Xpeng Inc. and Nio Inc. make for intensifying competition.

Both BMW and Mercedes saw sales drop in China as stringent Covid lockdowns kept customers away from showrooms. Mercedes heavily discounted the price for its flagship EQS electric sedan last year in a move to reposition in a competitive market.

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Deliveries of electric vehicles were a bright spot for the German companies as they rolled out new battery-powered models and sought to comply with tightening emissions regulations. 

At BMW, sales of EVs like the i4 sedan more than doubled to 215,755 cars. Mercedes also more than doubled EV sales, to 117,800 units, and said fully electric and plug-in hybrid models accounted for 15% of total shipments last year.

“We will maintain our course for profitable growth in 2023,” BMW’s sales chief Pieter Nota said in a statement Tuesday. “The clear focus will be on ramping up electromobility.”

—With assistance from Craig Trudell.

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