2022 could be the last year in which the global challenge between premium manufacturers ends with a German derby. Even in the last twelve months, BMW has prevailed, which despite a drop in volumes of 5.1% has sold 2,100,692 cars. Less than 60,000 more than Mercedes, which stopped at 2,043,900 with a more contained drop (-1%). The fight for the platonic title of best-selling premium brand has been played out for years around the two million mark, a threshold that Tesla would seem destined to reach by the end of 2023. This year it exceeded 1.3 million units (1. 4 products), i.e. 300,000 less than the third largest high-end German brand, Audi (1.61 million, -3.9%). Forecasts and estimates give the American electric car manufacturer just under or just over 2 million units thanks to its impressive growth rate: +87% in 2021, +40% in 2022.
However, volumes matter less and less, because manufacturers have favored the parameter of profitability, on which brands such as Porsche, Lamborghini and Ferrari still have an edge. In the third quarter of 2022 both the house of the Propeller, both the one with the Star and the one with the Four Rings in any case recorded double-digit returns on sales, ranging between 11 and 14%. Mercedes has announced that it wants to go beyond the premium reference to aim for luxury, BMW has not made similar statements, but the offer seems to go in this direction, even if Oliver Zipse, the CEO, has hinted that the manufacturer will not abandon the classes more “low” in which he is already engaged. The pandemic, the semiconductor crisis and the war have somehow facilitated the car manufacturers which, unable to fulfill the entire demand, have decided to focus on the more expensive models with the most margins. It remains to be seen how the situation will change with the expected return to normality of the microprocessor market.
And, above all, it will be necessary to understand how the customers of the Celestial Empire will move, in particular with regard to electric cars, which represent the future of the automotive industry. In the first nine months of the year, 3.6 million battery-powered cars were registered in China, but just 150,000 are attributable to German brands. Tesla delivered nearly 56,000 vehicles in December alone, which is down sharply. In Germany itself, dova has opened a plant that is gradually becoming fully operational (half a million cars a year), and closed 2022 at +76.2% with just under 70,000 cars registered. For BMW, as for Mercedes, China accounts for about 37% of sales (40% for Tesla) and if electrics have the upper hand and Chinese manufacturers, in addition to Tesla, continue to be highly popular, the space for German brands will be reduced .
And perhaps not just for them. Volvo Cars, another premium brand, closed 2022 with a 12% drop in volumes with 615,121 cars delivered. Although growing, Jaguar Land Rover should not be able to overcome the Swedish manufacturer.