News Column

Germany Luxury Car Sales Buck Economic Gloom

July 11, 2012

Andrew McCathie

2012 Porsche

Porsche's global sales figures were the latest indication on Wednesday that Germany's luxury carmakers are heading for a boom year, despite the threat posed by Europe's ongoing debt crisis.

Global Porsche sales raced ahead by 14 per cent in the first six months of the year, the figures showed. They followed robust delivery results by the Stuttgart-based carmaker's rivals - BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi.

Porsche said deliveries had risen 18.9 per cent in June compared with the same month last year.

"We don't have a crisis," said Frank Biller, auto industry analyst with the Baden Wuerttemberg state bank. Porsche expects to post double-digit growth this year, driven by the release of its new-generation iconic 911 model.

Demand in China, the world's biggest car market, has also helped boost sales for the premium car manufacturers. Porsche said deliveries to China had jumped by 24.5 per cent during the period from January to June.

Audi, the luxury offshoot of Europe's biggest carmaker, Volkswagen, reported a 12.3-per-cent jump in worldwide sales on Monday, after deliveries surged by 38 per cent in China and by 16.5 per cent in the US.

The China Automobile Manufacturers Association said Wednesday that vehicle sales in the country had grown by 9 per cent to 1.58 million in June, despite signs that the nation's economy - the world's second biggest - had lost momentum in recent months.

While BMW deliveries to China gained 31 per cent in the first half of the year, Audi posted a 20-per-cent rise and Mercedes said deliveries to the Asian economic powerhouse had grown by 8 per cent. A quarter of Audi's sales now derive from China.

"Despite a noticeable headwind in the southern European markets, where Audi performs better than the total market, the brand is growing in all world regions," said Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler.

He went on to say that Audi remained on course to achieve its full-year target of a record 1.4 million car sales in 2012.

But the risks posed by the economic fallout of Europe's ongoing debt crisis have dampened the mood among luxury carmakers.

"We sense a harsh wind," Stadler told the German finance newspaper Boersen-Zeitung.

"Porsche successfully continued on its growth path in the first half of the year," said Porsche's sales chief Bernhard Maier, adding however, "We cannot separate ourselves from the economy as a whole."

"With regard to the European economy in particular, we will continue to monitor developments closely and respond quickly if necessary," Maier added. "Nevertheless, we are currently planning for double-digit growth in 2012."

Releasing its figures last week, BMW reported more subdued figures for Europe, with sales in its German home market nudging down by 0.6 per cent.

Still, BMW - the world's leading premium brand - was optimistic about its business in the coming months.

"There will be additional new models arriving in the coming months, which are expected to bring further momentum in the second half of the year," said BMW sales chief Ian Robertson.

Total worldwide deliveries for Munich-based BMW, whose stable of brands include its core BMW models as well the compact Mini and the top-of-the-range Rolls Royce, gained 8.1 per cent in the first half.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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