Last year, 2.03 million cars were sold in the UK and the German big three — Audi, BMW and Mercedes — took a healthy 17 per cent of the market. What’s more, those 342,000 cars were virtually all sold at premium prices and with a healthy profit margin.
The rise and rise of premium brands has been one of the biggest stories in the UK new car market. While volumes and margins have been crumbling for the mass-market brands, the premium badges have made steady strides over the past two decades.
BMW, the best established of the three back in 1992, has more than trebled its volumes, from 40,000 units per year to 127,000 units. Mercedes has added about 69,000 units, a four-fold rise on its 1992 sales.
Audi, by contrast, has increased its volumes nearly nine-fold. The UK sales of the Volkswagen Group’s star performer have jumped from just 14,000 units in 1992 to 123,000 last year.
There’s no doubt that the UK has become a much more brand-orientated consumer market since the turn of the century. BMW sales grew steadily from 40,000 in 1992 to 67,600 in 2000, but by 2001, its sales had jumped to 81,000 in a single year.