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Bavarian battle: BMW, Audi car sales in SA

2018-03-07 09:43

Lance Branquinho

Image: Supplied

Cape Town - BMW and Audi might be neighbours in Germany but they are bitter rivals here. Is the "junior German luxury brand" gaining on BMW in South Africa?

Legacy is never to be underestimated. Ask someone to mention a Bavarian luxury car maker, and there’s only one name mentioned in most replied: BMW. Literally, that’s not surprising as ‘Bavaria’ is part of the acronym.

BMW is not Bavaria’s sole premium car brand, though. Ingolstadt falls tidily within the state lines of Bavaria, which means that Audi qualifies as part of the argument – although it has always been regarded as the ‘junior’ Bavarian luxury car in South Africa.

Naamsa reports 46 347 vehicles sold in February, a decline of 1854 vehicles or -3.8% from the 48 201 vehicles sold in February 2017. Click here for the full story

Have perceptions shifted over time?

Extract the latest South African car sales numbers and you’ll be surprised at how close ‘junior’ has come to its more established Bavarian rival in certain segments.

According to Naamsa, BMW still trumps Audi by more than a third in the South African market, Munich having delivered 1191 cars versus Ingolstadt’s 808 locally, in February. BMW does register a benefit in scale, retailing a range 15 models strong in South Africa, as opposed to Audi’s portfolio of only 11, the most notable sales absence in February being no A8s – whilst BMW sold 13 7-Series limousines.

In terms of value and luxury - what's your perception of BMW and Audi in South Africa? Email us

If you are considering a Bavarian sedan, the advantage clearly still resides with BMW. Its 5 Series handsomely outsold A6 (24 to 10), whilst the 3 Series is immensely more popular than A4, BMW homing 506 of its compact sedans in February compared to Audi’s 113 A4s. 

Where Audi does close on BMW are compact SUVs, crossovers and hatches. Q5 retailed within 13% of X3 (117 versus 134), whilst Q3 came out ten units ahead of X2. Strangely, demand for Q2 has waned, with X1 outselling it by more than half, with 69 versus 36. Audi’s most impressive performance measured against its senior Bavarian rival, are in the segments where Ingolstadt traditionally entered first: hatchbacks. 

The A3 has always been a staple of Audi’s South African sales momentum and in February they sold 250. Comparatively, BMW only sold 107 1 Series. That said, Audi has not separated its Sportback, sedan or cabriolet A3 derivatives, instead choosing to cluster all three as a single number, which might account for its advantage over 1 Series. 

When the totals are calculated, tabulated and compared BMW still outsold Audi by 22% last month and it was mostly the work of 3-Series, which is heartening in a market where the perception is that SUVs are replacing sedans as the Germany luxury vehicle configuration of choice. With new A7 and A8 Audi should gain some large car market share, which is another area where BMW is superior. It simply has more big-car models and leverages additional sales off those. 

Audi’s Q7 is a fine large SUV, more conservatively styled than its predecessor, hugely spacious with a typically excellent Audi cabin and amazing ride quality courtesy of air-suspension, but BMW’s X5 sold 89 units in February, whilst Audi managed to move a mere 14 Q7s. Illustrating the point is that BMW sold more of is compromised rear-cabin comfort X6s than Audi did Q7, 18 versus 14. And not a single R8, either, whilst BMW found three i8 owners. 

Although many people mistakenly don’t categorise it as such, Bavaria has two very accomplished brands retailing German luxury cars in South Africa, but for the time being, BMW has the ascendency due to its larger range and the predisposition of local buyers to its large SUVs. 

Audi however is due for a bumper two years locally as it will unleash a host of new models.

Read more on:    audi  |  bmw  |  south africa  |  cars  |  german

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