US car market: German premium manufacturers on the rise

The German premium manufacturers are a force in the American car market. In 2005 their market share was still around 33 percent, in 2014 it reached an impressive 49 percent, according to an analysis by the Center of Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. In absolute terms, the trend has also increased in the past ten years: from 651.000 to 970.000 vehicles.

Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Porsche and their noble subsidiary and sister brands Bentley, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce also benefit from weakness in the competition. Competitors such as Hummer, Saab and Oldsmobile have since stopped their production. Cadillac was recently in a reorganization phase, the Japanese luxury brands Acura (Honda), Lexus (Toyota) and Infiniti (Nissan) have stagnated or lost sales volume in recent years. Only small, exclusive manufacturers such as Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin were able to grow noticeably during this period.

Also in the past year, Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche more cars sold than in 2013. The fact that the total of German manufacturers, according to the industry association VDA with 953.500 new registrations remained at the previous year's level, has to do with VW's weakness. The Wolfsburg-based company simply does not get its US business going and lost almost ten percent of new registrations in 2014; just under 367.000 cars found a buyer.

Unlike its subsidiary Audi, VW has to deal with the much tougher and more numerous competition in the cost-sensitive volume market on the US market. In addition, according to many experts, there is a lack of understanding of the US market and an unsuitable product range. VW wants to improve on both points: the boss for the US market was recently replaced, and the study of a new mid-size SUV is being presented at the Detroit auto show, which is supposed to close an important gap in the portfolio. But at the earliest in just under two years.

Author: Holger Holzer / SP-X

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