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BMW Tops Luxury-Car Sales List

BMW sold a record 1.81 million cars in 2014 and remains the world's favourite luxury car brand, but the company's lead was still cut by its German rivals, Audi and Mercedes.

The results marked the 10th consecutive year that BMW has occupied the number one spot in the luxury-car sales list. 
Sales of BMW cars leapt by 14% in December 2014 to a total of 177,954 cars worldwide. This final month took the total for 2014 to 1.81 million, which was up by 10% on 2013. The company says that a strong sales performance in the key markets of the USA and China was behind the record figures. Mercedes has had less to shout about in the last few years, after they dropped down into third place in the sales charts in 2011, having been overtaken by Audi. Nevertheless, Mercedes did enjoy a strong final quarter of 2014 and actually outsold Audi in November and December, seeing a 17% rise in sales. Audi also enjoyed strong sales in December, when they sold 150,000 units, a rise of 15% on 2013. This was not enough, however, to beat Mercedes as the year drew to a close. 
Taken as a whole, BMW sold around 1.81 million cars in 2014 - just over 9.5% more than in 2013. Audi saw a year-on-year rise of 10.5% to 1.74 million, and Mercedes crossed the line in third place with 1.65 million sales - itself a rise of almost 13% on 2013 figures. 
According to a BMW spokesman, the company has been able to increase sales in all key market segments and major international regions due to strong demand for new models. The company has recently introduced the 2-Series Active Tourer and X4 SUV. It has launched the i3, an electric vehicle that uses carbon-fibre composite materials in order to save weight and increase the car's range. Sales of the i3 have so far been strong, and the company seems to have benefited from combining the luxury of a BMW with the green credentials and frugal running costs of an electric vehicle. 
The importance of China to the luxury car market was underlined at Mercedes, where the country became its second-largest market after the USA. Mercedes sales in China increased by a whopping 29% to a total of 281,588 cars. According to analysts, all of the big three German luxury marques will continue to increase sales in China in 2015, but they also say that the rate of growth in both the US and China could slow down in the coming year. Some industry observers argue that the increased demand seen in the US is not matched by economic growth and therefore sales will eventually slow. They also point to the fact that the rate of expansion of the Chinese economy is slowing, resulting in a levelling out of demand for luxury products. It is thought, therefore, that Audi, BMW and Mercedes will all see more growth in 2015, albeit at a slower pace than in 2014. 
BMW's success is yet more evidence of the Munich firm's ability to carve out a very particular niche in the prestige car market. This can perhaps best be summed up by the company's slogan: 'The Ultimate Driving Machine'. Whereas other car makers go for performance or luxury, BMW is intent on providing both. This can be seen in their obsession with perfectly balancing the weight of their cars between front and rear and their almost total dedication to the sportier rear-wheel-drive set-up in the cars. This strategy has allowed them to dominate the compact executive saloon with the 3-Series and has also led some to call the 5-Series the best all-round car in the world. BMW has also been able to expand successfully from its luxury saloon base into other markets, and the company now offers a convincing range of SUVs and even small hatchback cars. The i3, meanwhile, saw BMW enter the market for alternatively fuelled cars to much acclaim.

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