It’s that time of the year when manufacturers announce their ‘report cards’ to investors, and C-level executives have their performance reviewed. It’s not uncommon for several companies to claim the title of being ‘number one’ for themselves; it’s all about semantics.
Yesterday, Daimler announced its 2018 results and proudly proclaimed Mercedes-Benz brand was once again the strongest-selling premium brand in the automotive industry, with 2,252,800 units sold.
The BMW Group had earlier announced that it had achieved its eighth consecutive annual sales record, with a total of 2,490,664 units, calling itself the world’s number one premium automotive manufacturer.
Both companies are correct in calling themselves number one. The question is which definition of number one are you referring to?
As a manufacturers of premium vehicles, the BMW Group is clearly number one, but keep in mind that this number includes MINI, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, and BMW Motorrad two-wheelers.
Daimler makes far more vehicles than the BMW Group, at over 3.4 million units but this includes commercial vehicles made by the Mercedes-Benz Vans, Trucks, and Buses divisions.
Daimler’s premium passenger car sales are all parked under the Mercedes-Benz Cars division, which sold 2,382,800 units last year. The Mercedes-Benz brand alone sold 2,252,800 cars but this doesn’t include contributions by Mercedes-Maybach, Mercedes-AMG and smart (yes, with lowercase) brands, whose detailed breakdowns are not made public by Daimler.
Further complicating matters are cars like the V-Class and X-Class, both are products made by the Mercedes-Benz Vans division but its sales are parked under Mercedes-Benz Cars.
Between the Mercedes-Benz brand and the BMW Group’s namesake BMW cars brand, it is Mercedes-Benz that sells more - 2,252,800 units versus 2,125,026 units. However keep in mind that BMW’s numbers include 102,780 units of BMW M models while Daimler is a bit vague on whether its numbers include AMG and Maybach models.
In its reporting to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), Daimler reports Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Maybach numbers under the Mercedes brand, separating only smart. However the company’s own financial report separates the Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach, and smart sub-brands.
This would imply that Mercedes-Benz’s (including AMG and Maybach) lead over BMW cars is actually even wider but remember that a large of chunk of Mercedes-Benz’s sales is contributed by fleet orders from taxi companies and government civil services. BMW also does fleet sales but the majority of their sales are contributed by private owners.
If one were to limit the comparison between BMW cars and Mercedes cars, the former sold 2,325,098 cars against the latter’s 2,382,800. In other words, Daimler’s premium cars outsold BMW’s by a very thin 2 percent margin.
In short if you were to compare only four-wheelers, then yes Daimler came out on top, but as a premium vehicle manufacturer, the BMW Group came out on top thanks to contributions by BMW Motorrad. Some might not agree with BMW’s methods but nobody will disagree that BMW motorcycles are premium products.