While BMW may be the top dog in the US market, Mercedes-Benz remains as the best-selling luxury car brand in the world, beating BMW and Audi for the fourth consecutive year, Automotive News Europe reported. Mercedes-Benz recently announced its global sales grew 1.3% to 2,339,562 vehicles, a figure which includes AMG models, X-Class and V-Class, but excludes commercial vehicles. Factor in Smart’s total sales of 116,781 units (down 9.3%) and the tally goes up to 2,456,342 in sales, up 0.7% overall.

The report stated that demand for upscale vehicles have shown to be more resilient than mainstream, mass-market cars, which has seen sales crimped in some regions due to slower economic growth, as well as fallout from trade disputes.

According to Mercedes-Benz, it posted record sales in Germany, China, and the US, thanks to strong reception for its SUVs and high-end sedans. Demand in China – the world’s largest auto market – rose by a staggering 6.2%, where local customers are buying the Maybach S-Class sedan at a rate of over 700 units a month.

China remains as Mercedes-Benz’s largest market, with sales of 693,443 units (6.2% increase, a new record year) driven largely by its compact car range and SUVs. In fact, every third Mercedes model sold is an SUV. The company maintains market leadership in the luxury segment in Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and South Africa.

Comparatively, BMW sold 2.17 million cars (up 2%) in 2019, of which 135,826 units are M models (up 32.2%!), while the BMW i EVs and i Performance PHEVs added 145,815 (up 2.2%). MINI sold 346,639 units (a drop of 4.1% over 2018), while Rolls-Royce sales grew a whopping 25.4% thanks to the Cullinan, adding 5,152 units to the count. As a whole, the BMW Group (BMW, MINI and RR) shifted 2,520,307 units.

Technically, the BMW Auto Group outsold the Mercedes-Benz group, but Mercedes-Benz Vans division sold 420,000 commercial vehicles throughout 2019, which puts it ahead of BMW. It’s easy to see why both brands claim to be number one, but also easy to see why it can be quite confusing.

Moving forward, BMW is aiming for a slight increase in group sales for 2020, along with “solid sales growth” in China. European sales outlook are expected to be on par with 2019 due to a “deterioration in the economic environment,” although US sales are expected to go up marginally.

BMW sales boss Pieter Nota said in a statement: “Thanks to our large model offensive, we once again succeeded in increasing our sales to a new high in 2019. I am confident that we will continue on our successful course in the current year.” With sales of luxury vehicles and large SUVs picking up, BMW said it will double sales of its higher-end cars between 2018 and 2020, buoyed by the launch of the flagship X7 SUV last year.

Meanwhile, Audi lagged behind at 1,845,550 cars (up 1.8%). New company sales chief, Hildegard Wortmann, said the automaker’s new product line-up should help it sustain positive sales momentum and win back ground lost to Mercedes-Benz and BMW over the past few years.

Volvo Cars set its sixth consecutive global sales record in 2019, breaking the 700,000-unit barrier for the first time in its 93-year history. The company recorded sales of 705,452, an increase of 9.8% compared to 2018. Jaguar Land Rover didn’t fare quite as well, with sales down 5.9% for the year to 557,706 units. Of the total, 396,105 were Land Rover vehicles, and the rest are Jaguars.

Closer to home, auto brands have yet to disclose the total sales for 2019, but let’s quickly see how the premium brands fared from January to November in 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. For 2019, the YTD for Mercedes-Benz is 9,349 units, down from 12,337 units (-24%) it managed in 2018. BMW also dipped from 10,991 units in 2018 to 8,835 in 2019 (-19.6%).

Volvo seems to be the only premium brand on the rise, having sold 1,691 units from January to November 2019. The YTD for 2018 was 1,279 units, representing a healthy 32.2% jump. There is, however, no stats for Audi since it no longer submits sales data to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).