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The three-pointed star has fallen! Battle of the German luxury brands sees BMW knock over Mercedes-Benz in 2023 Australian new-car sales race

SUVs rule the local luxury roost, but BMW now has its nose in front of Mercedes-Benz.

While Chevrolet, Chrysler and Ford constitute the USA’s traditional ‘Big Three’, the three-way battle for premium market supremacy between Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz is the current German equivalent, on a global scale.

And 2023’s Australian new-vehicle sales numbers saw a local changing of the guard at the top of this luxury trio, with BMW’s black, white and blue roundel knocking off the Mercedes three-pointed star, while the biggest year-on-year improver of the three, Audi, remained in a (markedly closer) third position. 

In a year where vehicle supply was still tight in the first half, with slightly better availability varying by model in the second, BMW recorded 26,184 registrations last year, up 15.4 per cent on its 2022 number (22,696), while Mercedes-Benz sales shrank 9.3 per cent from 26,801 in 2022 to 24,315 in 2023 (excluding light commercial and heavy trucks).

As mentioned, Audi was the most improved, increasing Australian sales by 29.2 per cent from 14,732 in 2022 to 19,039 last year.

Hero performer for BMW was the compact X1 SUV, standing as the brand’s outright best-seller as well as one of the biggest improvers (91.5 per cent up year-on-year). Other big contributors were the X3 and X5 SUVs as well as the evergreen 3 Series sedan. 

Over at Mercedes-Benz the ever-popular C-Class dropped more than 25 per cent from 3566 registrations in 2022 to 2625 last year. But growth for the GLC Coupe confirms the local market’s undying appetite for SUVs over more conventional options.

That fact was underlined by the improved performance of Audi’s most popular models, the Q5 and Q3 SUVs, however, the compact A3 hatch increased its sales by no less than 57.3 per cent.

James Cleary
Deputy Editor
As a small boy James often sat on a lounge with three shoes in front of him, a ruler between the cushions, and a circular drinks tray in his hands....
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