Luxury car sales rise amid increasing demand

Luxury-car makers boosted their 2010 outlooks as demand recovered faster than expected, fueled by a growing number of affluent Chinese customers and a rebound in the U.S.

Audi AG will report a "very significant" increase in second-quarter earnings from a year earlier, fueled by stronger car sales. The company will offer more concrete full-year sales guidance Friday, the German luxury car maker’s chief executive, Rupert Stadler, said late Monday."We will exceed the one million [car sales] significantly this year," Mr. Stadler said at the presentation of the new A7 coupe in Munich. He declined to be more specific.

Audi’s German rival, Mercedes-Benz, said Tuesday that it expects to contribute €4 billion in earnings before interest and tax, or Ebit, to parent Daimler AG’s full-year profit, which is expected to total €6 billion this year. The company had previously expected Ebit at the core Mercedes-Benz Cars unit would come in at the upper end of €2.5 billion to €3 billion in 2010 and group Ebit would exceed €4 billion. The Mercedes-Benz Cars unit includes the Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach nameplates.

In the second quarter, the return on sales at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division was 9.8%. Daimler said the Mercedes-Benz brand had its strongest second quarter ever, with car sales rising 24% on the year to 314,400 vehicles.

BMW AG, the world’s largest luxury-car maker by sales, said earlier this month that pretax profit in 2010 is set to rise more sharply than previously expected because sales are likely to be better than hoped.

BMW now expects this year’s vehicle sales to rise about 10% to more than 1.4 million cars. It had previously forecast a rise in the single-digit percentage range to more than 1.3 million cars. The company sold fewer than 1.3 million cars in 2009, down 10.4% from the year before.

from WSJ