Mercedes-Benz poised to become No. 2 luxury automaker?

Mercedes-Benz has plans to launch new small cars over the next few years in its battle to overtake Audi for second place behind BMW. A new German report suggests Mercedes-Benz can accomplish it by 2015.

Thomas Kienzle/AP/File
In this 2009 file photo, an employee of the Daimler AG mounts the Mercedes star on the hood of a car of the Mercedes-Benz E-class on the production line in Sindelfingen, Germany. A new report suggests Mercedes could grab the No. 2 spot among luxury carmakers by 2015.

Audi has a long-standing goal of becoming the world’s number one luxury automaker, and for the past few years it looked like the four-ring brand was well on its way to achieving this.

Last year, Audi sold just over 1.3 million vehicles worldwide, beating rival Mercedes-Benz (1.26 million) and closing the gap on BMW (1.38 million sales).  For Audi, that represented a 19.2-percent gain over the prior year, compared to 12.8-percent for BMW and a modest 8-percent for Mercedes Benz.

Now comes word from Bloomberg that Mercedes-Benz may overtake Audi for the number two position in 2015. Forecasts from the Center of Automotive Research at the University of Duisberg-Essen have BMW selling 1.76 million vehicles in 2015, followed by Mercedes Benz (1.68 million) and Audi (1.63 million).

How accurate any long-term forecasts are in the automotive industry is the subject of much debate, but Mercedes-Benz is clearly taking steps to combat sales gains by Audi. Over the next few years, Mercedes-Benz is launching a plethora of new global vehicles, primarily in the small car segment.

There’s the new A-Class, a new B-Class, the CLA four door coupe (smaller brother to the CLS 550) and even a new compact crossover called the GLA Class. Priced right, these models have the potential of boosting Mercedes-Benz’s sales above those of Audi  in the coming years.

Of course Audi isn’t standing idly by, either. Expect to see the new Q3 crossover in the coming months, followed by a new compact crossover dubbed the Q2. Then there’s the new A3 wagon to consider, which will be followed by an all-new A3 sedan.

It may not be perfectly clear which company will take the sales lead in three years time, but this much is obvious: with so much new product to choose from, luxury car shoppers are the real winners. 

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