Each member of the Teutonic triumvirate – BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz – is battling to be the world's Number One luxury maker. BMW has won the title for the past seven years running, but Audi CEO Rupert Stadler (shown above) has told Reuters that as of "2020 at the latest" his company will overtake BMW. That sounds quite soon, but it's actually a less aggressive target date than it once was: Stadler had previously planned on 2015 being the year when Audi sold more cars than its German foes, and although its sales trend and profits are strong, overall weakness in the market has put some flexibility into that date.
There's also the issue of Mercedes, since it has the very same plan: At the beginning of this year Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said his company would be Number One by 2020 with a predicted annual sales of 2.7 million cars. Backing him up, Germany's Center for Automotive Research says Mercedes – which dropped to third last year – could move back to number two by 2015, ahead of Audi but still behind BMW. Audi had targeted 1.5 million sales for 2015 and might reach that milestone sooner, but that number – which is less than CAR's prediction of Audi sales in 2015 – would still leave it in third.
The strategies of all three include more vehicles in more segments, such as BMW with its UKL platform plans and Mercedes with its A- and B-Class variants and AMG portfolio expansion, and BMW has tied up with Toyota while Mercedes is dancing with Nissan. Audi is going it alone, if being part of the Volkswagen empire can be called "alone," and its efforts include new crossover models like the Q2 and Q6, though plans for a North American factory are still swirling.
That's a lot of punches being thrown; in 2020, we'll know whose punches hit hardest with buyers.