Being last past the post is not necessarily as bad as it seems.
If anything, true champions in their field, just like the bride’s late arrival at church, will be readily forgiven for their lateness.
It goes with true celebrity status.
This year, following compatriots Daimler and Audi in this year’s results’ reporting season, BMW didn’t even attempt to spoil Audi’s annual full year results party.
Instead, BMW’s first-off results were published well after this year’s notably more sober and distinctly less glitzy Audi results presentation.
This year BMW has plainly ignored Audi’s numbers show.
Is Audi no longer seen as a threat?
Germany’s aristocratic old guard didn’t fail to present yet another impressive set of full year numbers.
Little less was expected.
The fight for leadership in what ranks as the most profitable slice of the world’s perpetually growing car market has intensified a great deal.
And yet, it’s just a three-horse race.
BMW, Mercedes and Audi are more determined than ever to produce not only higher and higher annual sales numbers, thereby stealing more of mass market carmakers’ business, they are equally keen to outperform each other in one key discipline: Profitability.
The ultimate accolade?
World’s leading and most profitable top-notch car brand.
In a segment in which the status and image of the brand is of paramount importance, also leading the field in global sales and profitability heaps more glitter on the brand.
Today, there is little genuine differentiation between BMW, Mercedes and Audi cars by way of appealing designs, high-tech engines, connectivity, or high-build quality and safety, the ultimate desirability of these brands is increasingly determined by the status they heap on their owners fragile egos.
Then there is the high price issue.
The higher price of these prestige brand chariots, can paradoxically, strengthen their appeal with the targeted key buying group.
Growing numbers of today’s car buyers, say in the UK, the US or perhaps most tellingly in China, are only too happy to pay a premium for the ‘right brand’ of car.
BMW, in sales volume terms, still holds pole position in the world’s premium car sales leadership racing season.
As the title-holder it is keen to also produce top-notch financial numbers.
It goes with the title.
No surprise then, BMW Automotive, like Audi and Mercedes, ended this past year with yet another set of all-time sales records.
Yet, in a world where everything is relative, just one minor blemish.
BMW’s pre-tax margin took a minor dip to 9.2 per cent, thanks ostensibly to the end of the super-profits era in previously buzzing China.
Audi, hit last with a double whammy that includes lowish provisions for the dieselgate fallout, ended last year with an 8.3 per cent margin, down 1.3 percentage points.
But last year’s biggest splash in virtually every discipline came from BMW’s and Audi’s muscle-flexing Stuttgart rival.
A star performance and a precursor to succeeding ultimately in its blatant prestige sector leadership aspirations - including last year a sackful of records and fastest lap times - Mercedes upped its pre-tax margin by 1.8 percentage points to a segment leading 9.8 per cent.
It crowns the brand with the famous star emblem as the world’s most profitable major prestige brand.
It's no wonder then that Mercedes was dead-keen to kick off this year’s results season.
You can’t blame them.
The bigger picture?
Today, with Audi already nudged aside from the runner-up position, Mercedes’ eagle eyes are focused on the bigger