Based on their self-reported respective sales claims, BMW flipped the recent script and edged out arch-rival Mercedes-Benz in the worldwide luxury car sales race in 2021.

    Excluding Mini and Rolls-Royce, BMW lodged 2,213,795 passenger and SUV sales, compared to 2,054,962 sales for Mercedes-Benz passenger and SUV – including the V-Class and EQV, but excluding commercial vans and Smart. 

    This is an inversion of the Australian market, where Mercedes-Benz still reigns supreme. 

    Reflecting their respective years, the BMW brand claimed 9.1 per cent sales growth over the calendar year despite ongoing chip shortages, compared to a reported 5.0 per cent decline for Mercedes-Benz’s volumes that was felt most keenly in quarter four, a period where its sales tumbled 24.7 per cent. 

    Zooming out a little, BMW Group Automotive including Mini (302,1444) and Rolls-Royce (5586) managed 2,521,525 sales, up 8.4 per cent.

    Mercedes-Benz including the Van division (334,210) and Smart (38,514) totalled 2,427,686, down 4.0 per cent. Again, the Bavarian prevails. 

    Sitting in third was fellow German Audi, with 1,680,512 sales worldwide, down 0.7 per cent and as with Mercedes-Benz felt most keenly in Q4, a period when sales fell a claimed 34.2 per cent. That’s the semiconductor crunch for you. 

    Next among those luxury marques that have reported sales were Tesla (a record 936,222 electric cars, up 87.0 per cent), Lexus (760,012, up 6.0 per cent), Volvo (698,693, up 5.6 per cent), Jaguar Land Rover (420,856, down 1.2 per cent), and Porsche (301,915, up 11.0 per cent). 

    Brand2021 sales claimsChange
    BMW (no Mini or Rolls-Royce)2,213,795Up 9.1%
    Mercedes-Benz (no Smart or Vans)2,054,962Down 5.0%
    Audi1,680,512Down 0.7%
    Tesla936,222Up 87.0%
    Lexus760,012Up 6.0%
    Volvo698,693Up 5.6%
    Jaguar Land Rover420,856Down 1.2%
    Porsche301,915Up 11.0%

    Zooming in a little further to performance divisions, BMW M GmbH 163,542 (up 13.4 per cent) and Mercedes-AMG 145,979 (up 16.7 per cent) outperformed the wider market as both brands focused on high-profit vehicles to pull through the parts shortages. These sales contextualise Porsche’s result, too. 

    To shore-up investor support, all brands made mentions of their electric sales, too, which the table below shows. The growth at this end of the market, driven by legislation, was vastly greater than the median. 

    Brand2021 sales claimsChange
    Tesla BEV936,222Up 87.0%
    BMW BEV 103,855 including MiniUp 133.2%
    Mercedes-Benz BEV 99,301Up 90.3%
    Audi BEV 81,894Up 57.5%
    Volvo BEV 25,727Up 452.2%
    Porsche BEV 41,296, all Taycan


    “Despite supply bottlenecks and the continuing coronavirus pandemic… our brands reported numerous all-time best sales results around the globe – spearheaded by the BMW brand, which is number one in the global premium segment,” said member of the BMW AG Board of Management Pieter Nota.  

    “… We have set ourselves particularly ambitious growth targets in this [BEV] area and aim to more than double our sales of fully-electric vehicles from last year,” Nota added.


    ”In a challenging year, Maybach, AMG and G-Class vehicles posted new records. Order intake for the EQS, the longest-range EV on the market today, is very encouraging and production of the first all-electric AMG kicked off in December, starting a new chapter for our electric flagship,” said Board of Management member Britta Seeger.

    “This strong global demand for all our brands gives Mercedes-Benz the tailwinds to accelerate into a new electric era.”


    “Although the semiconductor supply will continue to be strained in the coming months, the strong growth in electric model deliveries gives us a tailwind to stick unflinchingly to our roadmap,” said Board of Management member Hildegard Wortmann. 

    “The high volume of incoming orders as well as the highest order backlog ever show that we have the right portfolio.”


    “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of our Lexus customers around the world. Despite the continuing impact of the spread of the COVID-19 and the tight parts supply chain, we were able to recover sales to a record level in 2021, selling approximately 760,000 units,” said President Koji Sato.

    Jaguar Land Rover

    “Semi-conductor supply challenges continue within the industry but our wholesale volumes are improving. We look forward to completing delivery to global customers as supply improves in 2022,” said Chief Commercial officer Lennard Hoornik.

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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