Mercedes loses premium sales crown to BMW, as chip shortage hits deliveries

Europe

Mercedes-Benz sold 2.05 million passenger vehicles globally in 2021, losing its crown as the world’s top-selling luxury brand to BMW.

It’s the first time in five years that the BMW brand has outsold Mercedes.

Sales of Mercedes brand passenger cars fell 5 percent to 2.05 units last year, parent Daimler said Friday. Volume slumped by 25 percent in the fourth quarter as the semiconductor shortage continued to hit supply.

BMW brand sold a record 2.2 million vehicles in 2021, the automaker said earlier this week. The company will release official figures later this month.

Mercedes was boosted by demand for its electrified models.

Sales of plug-in hybrids and full-electric vehicles at Mercedes grew by 69 percent to reach a new high at 227,458 units, of which 48,936 were Mercedes-Benz EQ full-electric cars.

Mercedes said it had received 16,370 orders for its EQS full-electric luxury sedan, whose retail sales started in December.

The sales numbers for Mercedes do not include the Smart brand or light commercial vans. BMW’s total is just for the namesake brand and excludes the group’s Mini and Rolls-Royce marques.

‘Volatile’ 2022

Mercedes delivered a warning for 2022, saying that “the semiconductor supply situation remains volatile and the shortage is expected to impact the upcoming quarters in terms of production and sales.”

Automakers have been prioritizing production of higher-margin vehicles during the chip shortage, and Mercedes said deliveries were up sharply for the S-Class (40 percent) and high-end vehicles from Maybach (51 percent) and Mercedes-AMG (17 percent). 

By region, Mercedes sales fell 11 percent in Europe, down 25 percent in Germany; 1.6 percent in Asia, with a 2 percent drop in China; but grew by 0.3 percent in North America, including a 0.4 percent increase in the U.S.

Mercedes said it expected to reach its 2021 EU emissions reduction target and avoid fines “based on internal calculations.”

It said a further decrease in its fleet emissions was expected in 2022 as electrified vehicle sales increase. 

Commercial van sales were up 2.6 percent to 334,210 units, Mercedes said, including more than 9,000 full-electric vans.

Daimler has been split into two companies, Daimler Trucks for commercial vehicles and Mercedes-Benz Group, for passenger cars. The name change was ratified in October and takes effect Feb. 1.

Reuters contributed to this report

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