Luxury brands eye record numbers

Updated: 2011-12-12 09:27

By Han Tianyang (China Daily)

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Shorter holiday break in Europe as factories work to meet China demand

BEIJING - German luxury carmakers continued robust sales in China last month and all look forward to record figures when the year draws to close in a few weeks.

Luxury brands eye record numbers

Demand for luxury brands is outstripping overall growth in China's car market.[Photo/China Daily]

The top premium brand in China, Audi set a new monthly record in November as it sold nearly 30,000 cars, a 70 percent leap from a year ago.

Locally produced Audi models all registered strong sales - 8,446 A4 L cars, 9,783 A6 L cars and 5,785 Q5 SUVs were sold last month. At the same time imported Audis reported blistering growth of nearly 200 percent with more than 5,574 cars delivered in November.

The carmaker's sales in the first 11 months increased 35 percent year-on-year to more than 280,000 vehicles as its tally for the whole year appears certain to clear the 300,000 benchmark.

BMW's November sales in China increased 7 percent to 19,155 units, bringing its deliveries in the first 11 months to more than 215,000 units, a surge of 41 percent . Its products on sale in China included the locally produced 3 Series and 5 Series sedans as well as a wide imported lineup.

Sales by Mercedes-Benz increased 24 percent last month in China to more than 18,000 vehicles. The fastest-growing market worldwide for the carmaker this year, its total China sales between January and November rose 31 percent to more than 170,000 units.

A Bloomberg report last week said that the world's three biggest luxury carmakers plan to limit holiday breaks for the second consecutive year to meet the rising demand for luxury vehicles in China.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz will shut most of their European factories for just a week between Christmas and New Year's Day, while Audi will close its plants for two weeks. In 2009, all three carmakers took a three-week year-end break due to sagging sales, the report said.

At full steam

At the other side of the Eurasian continent, all three German automakers will continue at full steam in China as they build capacity and add new products.

Audi will produce the Q3 SUV in China next year or 2013 at its plant in northeastern city of Changchun operated by a joint venture between its parent Volkswagen Group and local partner FAW Group. It also plans to build the A3 compact at a new plant scheduled for completion in two years in South China's Guangdong province.

Audi's combined capacity from the two sites could reach 700,000 units a year after 2015, according to the company.

BMW's second plant at its joint venture with Brilliance Auto in the northeastern city of Shenyang will be ready to produce the X1 SUV and new 3 Series early next year. A new engine plant at the joint venture will make the group's most advanced Twin-Power Turbo four-cylinder engine for the locally built X1 and other models.

Combined with an existing plant in Shenyang, the new factory will eventually push BMW's annual output in China to 300,000 vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz, the oldest luxury carmaker but the youngest in the Chinese market for local production, is accelerating its ambitious plan to boost annual capacity to 400,000 units or even more in 2015 at its joint venture with Beijing Automotive Group.

In addition to the C-Class and E-Class sedans now built at the joint venture, the GLK SUV just joined the locally made lineup at the beginning of December. It will hit the market early next year.

The company plans to build another three compact models - reportedly the A-Class, B-Class and the BLK - at the joint venture starting from 2013.