Audi no longer China's top luxury brand
Sales dive on spat over new dealer partnership
YU NAKAMURA, Nikkei staff writer
GUANGZHOU -- Volkswagen's Audi has lost its crown as China's top-selling luxury car brand for the first time, with sales dropping to third place in the January-June period due to a dispute over dealership arrangements.
The Audi name has long been synonymous with luxury cars in China. But during the six-month period, the brand's sales plummeted 12% to around 250,000 units. Dealers linked to VW partner FAW Group launched an Audi boycott to protest a sales agreement the German automaker signed with domestic rival SAIC Motor Corp last November.
VW worked to contain the situation by shelving the deal with Shanghai-based SAIC Motor, but sales dropped nonetheless as negotiations became bogged down.
Audi left the field to Mercedes-Benz of Germany's Daimler, which claimed the top spot of China's luxury car market as its sales surged 34% to around 300,000 vehicles in the January-June period. German automaker BMW also beat Audi's sales, soaring 18% to around 290,000 units.