Mercedes tops July luxury car sales, but BMW keeps overall lead

Confirming the fact that BMW leads Mercedes-Benz in the Indian luxury car market, the company in India posted a 14 per cent jump in sales during the January-July period this year. The wholly-owned subsidiary of Germany's BMW Group sold 2,008 units in the first seven months of the year, over 1,763 units in the same period last year.

"After seven months, we are number one. Our target is to stay number one in 2009 and we are very much on track," BMW's India president Peter Kronschnabl said in New Delhi on Saturday.

But former market leader Mercedes is snapping hard at its heels. After a gap of five months, Mercedes-Benz India overtook BMW in terms of July figures, selling 297 units against BMW's 261, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Wilfred Aulbur, managing director and chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz India, said, ''Sales are in line with our expectations. I would not like to comment on a single month's performance.''

Although a month's numbers are not quite indicative of a trend reversal, they would be encouraging for Mercedes, owned by another German car maker, Daimler AG, which has been losing ground to BMW India in the Indian market.

Maintaining his ground, Kronschnabl says most car makers in India report wholesale figures or sales rather than end-user purchases to dealers, a practice that skews the numbers against his firm. Unlike Mercedes, BMW reports sales to customers rather than dealer figures, he said.