(Yicai Global) Feb. 18 -- Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, the three most popular luxury car brands in the Chinese market, all posted sales gains for last month amid growing demand.
Mercedes-Benz peddled the most cars among the three firms in January with 70,000 units while BMW realized the fastest growth of 15.5 percent.
Audi sales grew 5.1 percent to 63,900 in China in January, while Mercedes and Smart increased 5 percent to 72,800. Sales of BMW and BMW Mini expanded 15.5 percent to 63,100, according to official data.
The penetration rate of the Chinese luxury car market is lower compared with foreign ones and great potential still exists, Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, told Yicai Global, adding that the market can maintain a 10 percent growth rate this year. "Sales of luxury cars by volume at the year-end are usually higher than those at the beginning, and demand is rising," he added.
"The Chinese auto market exhibited a downward trend last year with many carmakers cutting prices to spur sales at the year-end," he said. "The performance of luxury car brands has been good with Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW making steady progress, he said, adding that the three maintained rational growth last month.
The gap between the three major brands is not large at present, and competition is fierce. Mercedes sales in China have been higher than those of Audi and BMW since the beginning of last year. BMW is increasing its investment in China with its new X2 sports utility vehicle model expected to go into domestic production at the end of August.
"The three companies' respective sales rankings depend on whether their new products can drive demand, said Luo Lei, deputy secretary general of the China Automobile Dealers Association. "Policy uncertainties remain so there is no clear way of judging their rankings for this year."
Editor: William Clegg