These were the top selling premium car brands globally and in South Africa in 2023

BMW was the top-selling premium brand globally and in SA, with the X3 topping the Bavarian brand’s local sales charts.

BMW was the top-selling premium brand globally and in SA, with the X3 topping the Bavarian brand’s local sales charts.

Published Jan 17, 2024


What is the best premium car brand in the world?

That is of course a subject of widespread debate, across the internet, bar counters and braai fires alike. But when it comes to buyers voting with their hard-earned cash, BMW takes the lead once again.

According to figures released by the top three premium automotive companies, BMW was the world’s best-selling premium brand across the world in 2023, with 2,253,835 propeller-badged cars finding homes, up 7% on the previous year. The BMW Group as a whole sold 2,555,341 units if you include the 295,474 Minis and 6,032 Rolls Royces.

In second place was Mercedes-Benz, which managed to move 2,043,800 passenger cars globally in 2023, while group sales, including vans, amounted to 2,491,600.

Audi achieved third place with an approximate 1.9 million vehicles sold, up an impressive 17% over 2022, while Tesla took fourth place with just over 1.8 million sales, according to Automotive News Europe.

A similar ranking occurred among the top three in South Africa, although BMW enjoyed a much stronger lead with 13,679 Mzansi sales versus 7,062 Mercedes passenger car sales and 6,259 Audi sales.

Keep in mind that these calculations are based on estimated numbers released by Naamsa throughout the year. The BMW figure also includes Mini sales as these were not listed separately. However in the four months that separate Mini figures were provided, the sub-brand sold an average of 146 vehicles a month.

BMW’s top sellers globally, as well as in South Africa were the X1, X3 and 3-Series.

The X3 enjoyed a dominant lead in South Africa with an estimated monthly average of 258 units, followed by the 3 Series (163) and X1 (143).

However, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class was South Africa’s export hero among the premium brands in 2023, with 86,754 units shipped abroad, versus 57,423 BMW X3s. See the country’s top exports here.

Electric cars gaining traction

Although the electric vehicle (EV) action is limited in South Africa to say the least, all three carmakers reported healthy sales spikes for battery vehicles internationally.

Global sales of fully electric BMWs increased by 92.2% to 330,596 units, thereby accounting for 14.6% of total brand sales. And the ambition for 2024 is even bigger, says Jochen Goller, member of the Board of Management at BMW AG:

“We see continued high demand for our fully-electric products and, based on our strong, cross-brand product portfolio, expect to sell more than half a million fully-electric vehicles in 2024.”

Mercedes EV sales rose by 73% to 222,600 units, accounting for a 11% slice of the pie, or 19% if you include plug-in hybrids. Audi saw a 51% EV rise to a total of 178,000.

IOL Motoring