Mercedes and BMW's dominance wanes as electric brands ascend

While Mercedes outsold its arch-rival and topped the premium auto ranks for a fifth consecutive year, EV companies made serious inroads in the world’s largest market.While Mercedes beat BMW in overall sales, it lagged on electric and plug-ins.
By :
| Updated on: 12 Jan 2021, 05:29 PM
The logo of German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz is seen at Brussels Motor Show, Belgium January 9, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
The logo of German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz is seen at Brussels Motor Show, Belgium January 9, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
The logo of German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz is seen at Brussels Motor Show, Belgium January 9, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
The logo of German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz is seen at Brussels Motor Show, Belgium January 9, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Mercedes-Benz narrowly beat BMW AG for the title of world’s best-selling luxury-car brand in 2020, a year in which cracks started showing in German dominance of the all-important China market.

BMW said Tuesday worldwide deliveries for its namesake division fell 7.2% to 2.03 million, coming within 136,000 units of Daimler AG’s main passenger-car line. While Mercedes outsold its archrival and topped the premium auto ranks for a fifth consecutive year, electric-vehicle companies led by Tesla Inc. made serious inroads in the world’s largest market.

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Tesla, Nio Inc. and Li Auto Inc. emerged as forces to be reckoned with in China, where BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen AG’s Audi have long controlled more than 60% of the luxury segment. The market was a source of growth for the Germans last year, though they still gave up some of their share to the electric upstarts.

(Also read | Mercedes-Benz ropes in Roger Federer for promo campaign of all-new S-Class)

The German carmakers are responding to the threat by rapidly expanding their electric offerings. Daimler will introduce the EQA compact this month, one of four purely battery-powered vehicles it’s launching in 2021. BMW will almost double the number of all-electric and plug-in hybrid models it offers to 25 by 2023.

While Mercedes beat BMW in overall vehicle sales, it lagged on electric and plug-ins, with the latter selling almost 193,000 last year. More than half of Mercedes’s roughly 160,000 deliveries came in the fourth quarter, helping the company meet Europe’s CO2 targets. Audi delivered more than 47,000 of its battery-powered e-tron SUVs.

First Published Date: 12 Jan 2021, 05:29 PM IST
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