BMW still at top of the luxury car pile

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BMW outsold Audi and Mercedes-Benz in December to round off a 10th year as global luxury car-sales champion but its two German rivals have reduced its advantage.

Deliveries by BMW’s core brand jumped 14 per cent last month to 177,954 cars.

That took full-year sales to a record 1.81 million, up 10 per cent, the company said yesterday, citing strong demand in China and the United States.

Mercedes-Benz, which dropped into third place behind Audi in 2011 in the three-way German luxury contest, beat its rival for a second straight month with December sales of 163,171 vehicles, a 17 per cent gain, the company said.

By comparison, Audi, the Volkswagen-owned luxury division, sold 150,000 models, reporting a 15 per cent increase on year-ago levels that extended its 12-months gain to 11 per cent or 1.74 million cars.

Germany’s top three premium brands closed ranks last year.

Munich-based BMW’s lead over Audi shrank by 13 per cent in 2014 to 70,000 cars, compared with 80,000 vehicles a year earlier.

Audi’s own advantage over Mercedes-Benz fell by a fifth to 91,000 autos from 114,000 in 2013, according to company data.

Analysts said BMW, Audi and Mercedes may keep growing sales further this year but pointed to signs of slowing momentum in North America and China.