German luxury car major BMW continues to maintain its lead after overtaking arch rival Mercedes Benz (for the first time in January, 2009) as the number one luxury car in India through aggressive launches and dealer network expansions. In April-May 2009, BMW India sold 466 cars as compared to Mercedes, which sold 371 units. The third luxury brand Audi, which entered the market later sold 233 units in the same period. Incidentally, while BMW and Audi report retails sales figures, Mercedes Benz reports wholesale figures.
BMW hopes to retain the momentum for the rest of the year. Currently, BMW manufactures the 3 and 5 series at its Chennai facility, which account for more than 80% of BMW sales in India. The X3, X5, and 7 series are imported as completely built units. BMW has launched 4 new products this year, and is expected to expand dealer networks to around 20 cities by 2010.
BMW and Audi have kept pace with more sportier features and new launches, encouraging younger buyers. Discounts offered by Mercedes and fewer launches have eroded the brand value. Mercedes dealerships are also understood to be stuck with inventory, making the German car maker to despatch fewer cars to the dealerships.