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The world’s top-selling premium brand in 2021 was...

Published Jan 14, 2022


Jason Woosey

After being narrowly beaten by Mercedes-Benz in 2020, BMW has clawed back to achieve a decisive victory in the global sales race for premium car brands.

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According to a statement released by BMW, the Bavarian carmaker sold 2 213 795 units around the globe in 2021. This puts it ahead of Mercedes-Benz, which managed a total of 2 093 476 passenger cars, while Audi trailed with 1 680 512 customer deliveries.

If you include the Rolls Royce and Mini brands, the BMW Group actually sold 2 521 525 units in 2021, which is an 8.4% improvement over the previous year. Mercedes-Benz Cars and Vans managed a combined volume of 2.4 million units, with the commercial vehicles accounting for 334 210 sales. However, Merc’s car sales were down by 5% over the previous year, which the company attributes to the semiconductor chip shortage, while commercial vehicle sales were actually up 2.6%.

Mercedes also enjoyed some success on the electric vehicle front. Sales of plug-in hybrid and electric cars were up 69.3% to a record 227 458. Sales of fully electric cars, if you include the vans and Smart cars, rose above 99 000.

However, BMW still had the slight edge if we’re talking fully-electric, with its BEVs accounting for a volume of 103 855 if you include the Mini models. This was more than double the previous year’s BEV total.

According to BMW, one in three Mini 3-door model sales were of the fully-electric, while one in 10 BMW X3s were the battery-powered iX3 derivative. BMW also introduced the iX and i4 EVs last year, and the company plans to launch electric versions of the X1 and 7 Series this year, followed by a 5 Series EV in 2023.

One in 10 BMW X3s sold in 2021 were the electric iX3 variant.

BMW is planning to sell around 10 million fully-electric vehicles in the next decade.

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But the Bavarian carmaker will no doubt face stiff competition from Stuttgart, with Mercedes planning to offer an all-electric alternative to every model by the middle of the decade. It already offers the EQA, EQB, EQC, EQE, EQS and EQV.

But don’t overlook Audi. In 2021 the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer sold 81 894 fully-electric vehicles, which was an increase of 57.5%. And this e-tron family is expanding fast, with the four-ringed carmaker planning to have 20 full EVs on the market by 2025.