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Smooth drive for luxury brands
By Li Fangfang (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-10 09:05

Luxury sedan makers are suffering from shrinking sales in the West, but in China, sales continued to be robust in June and during the first half of the year.

German luxury car brands, Mercedes, Audi and BMW, posted strong sales during the period in China even though their premium offerings could not benefit from the government's industry stimulus measures, which are basically aimed at smaller cars.

Their diversified product strategies, which offered more models for Chinese consumers, have also proven to be quite successful.

Mercedes-Benz, which led growth in the luxury segment on the Chinese mainland, continued to show impressive numbers in June, delivering more than 5,100 vehicles, a year-on-year increase of 52 percent.

It concluded the first half by delivering nearly 27,000 vehicles, a record year-on-year growth of 50 percent.

"Our success in the first half of the year was driven by a combination of factors, including China's encouraging macroeconomic environment, our comprehensive product strategy and the approach to achieve highest customer satisfaction," said Bjoern Hauber, general manager of sales and marketing at Mercedes-Benz China Ltd.

Volkswagen's premium brand Audi said its sales in China, its biggest overseas market, increased by 11 percent from a year earlier to a record 66,866 vehicles in the first half of this year, with June sales rising 28 percent to 13,265 units, also an all-time high for that month.

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The German luxury car brand retained an average growth rate of more than 20 percent over the previous month in the first half, maintaining more than 40 percent market share in China's luxury vehicles segment.

"The robust sales show that we have devised the right product strategy for the Chinese market, which is matched to the tastes of the Chinese consumers," said Zhang Xiaojun, deputy managing director of Audi China's sales division.

According to Zhang, the sales were driven by a 26 percent growth in deliveries of Audi A4L, which featured a longer wheelbase tailored for the Chinese market, based on Audi's popular mid-size saloon car.

The world's biggest premium carmaker, BMW AG, said its sales in China surged by 44 percent over last year in June, to 8,506 units, while its global sales fell 12.7 percent.

In the first half, BMW delivered 37,627 luxury cars in total in China, up 24 percent year-on-year. The growing demand for the BMW X5 and X6 SUV models fueled the sales increase, the company said.

"Almost all luxury passenger carmakers realize the importance of product diversification. More luxury cars with smaller displacement and less fuel consumption have been introduced into the China market, including our B-Class, GLK-Class and Smart," said Mercedes' Hauber.

"All the luxury sedan producers, including Audi, have reinforced their product lineup in the China market, especially with products catering to Chinese consumers," said Zhang of Audi.

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