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When the chips are down: BMW beats Mercedes in battle for luxury car sales

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BMW electric cars on the assembly line in Leipzig, Germany. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

BMW electric cars on the assembly line in Leipzig, Germany. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

BMW electric cars on the assembly line in Leipzig, Germany. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

BMW beat longtime rival Mercedes-Benz to the luxury-car sales crown for the first time since 2015 after better navigating the semiconductor shortage that has snarled auto output globally.

Deliveries of BMW-branded cars jumped 9pc to a record 2.2m last year, surpassing Mercedes's about 2.1m. Output of the Daimler-owned brand shrank 5pc after the lack of chips grew much worse during the second half.

"In 2022 we want to continue our profitable growth and we will systematically expand our range of fully electric vehicles," said Pieter Nota, head of sales at BMW.

BMW's victory over Mercedes may partially be a sign of the component shortages skewing global car sales. Figures released last week showed Toyota selling more vehicles in the US last year than General Motors, the first time any manufacturer has beaten the Detroit giant since 1931.

BMW's deliveries had been tracking ahead of the Daimler brand for much of this year even as it had to temporarily shutter factories during the summer months. BMW says its decision to ramp up chip orders despite the hit to sales from pandemic lockdowns in 2020 helped it keep factories supplied with the components this year.

Mercedes last week said scarce supply of the components will continue to grip the industry during the first half of the year. 

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