Published on November 1st, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mercedes-Benz Rises Above BMW In Russia
Mercedes-Benz is maneuvering around Russia’s economic and political roadblocks while rival luxury automakers BMW and Audi have backslid. Despite sanctions imposed on the country in the wake of its occupation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, and devaluation of the ruble, Mercedes deliveries increased 13.1% year-on-year in September and 18.6% year-to-date. BMW sales plunged 45.9% last month and were down 11.4% after nine months, while Audi saw a 17.0% September drop-off and a 4.7% year-to-date decline. Mercedes has opened up a wide lead in unit sales with 42,050 through September, compared with BMW’s 26,317 and Audi’s 25,724.
Russian media reports indicate Mercedes parent Daimler continues searching for a local production partner. That would allow the automaker to circumvent the Russian government’s recent ban on state purchases of imported cars, of which Mercedes was a leading supplier. A Mercedes production JV also could be encouraged by the possibility that sanctions against Russia could be lifted by the end of October. Which models would be built locally, and production volumes, have not been disclosed. But analysts note leading candidates are the GLK and GLA compact CUVs, sales of which have increased significantly in recent years. The automaker also might build E-Class sedans, which are popular among Russian officials and other corporate clients.