Click on the image above for a high-res gallery of the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

No one would argue that 2008 was anything but a miserable year for the auto industry worldwide. Even high end brands like Bentley, Porsche and Ferrari were feeling the pain. In spite of all that, there were a couple of bright spots in the high performance sector. Both Mercedes-Benz's AMG division and BMW's M GmbH saw big jumps in sales last year.

Sales of AMG models hit their highest levels ever with deliveries of 24,200 cars worldwide. AMG received a big boost from the launch of the new generation C63 which we drove last fall. The C63 accounted for one-third of AMG sales last year.

Over in Munich, BMW's M division also got a boost from its newest mainline model, the M3. The M3 accounted for 18,000 of the 26,772 sales for M, making 2008 the group's second best year to date. With the economy showing no near term signs of recovery, it seems unlikely that those figures will be surpassed in 2009, but additional models could change that. Check out the press releases and more galleries after the jump.




High-performance sports cars continue their worldwide success - dynamic development also of M Sports Packages and BMW Individual. Munich. Delivering 24 186 BMW M Automobiles to customers in the 2008 business year, BMW M GmbH has scored the second-best result in the thirty-year history of the company, increasing sales by approximately 50 per cent over the previous year.

"Particularly the ongoing high level of BMW M Car sales also in the second half of the year underlines the great emotional appeal our products have for the customer", stated Ludwig Willisch, President of BMW M GmbH.

The new BMW M3 was the outstanding driving force behind this positive development, accounting for worldwide sales of almost 18 000 units in its first complete year of production. As a result, the BMW M3 available since 2008 as both a Coupe, Sedan and Convertible, made an even more successful entry into the market than its predecessor which in 2002 already made a significant contribution to the company's most successful business year so far (26 776 units delivered to customers). The great success of the new BMW M3 was also one of the reasons why BMW M GmbH was able to celebrate a second milestone in the company's 30th year of street car production, delivery of the 300 000th BMW M Automobile setting yet another benchmark in the history of BMW M GmbH in 2008.

The model portfolio of BMW M GmbH currently comprises seven models with the new BMW M3 Coupe leading the internal sales ranking with a total number of 10 571 units sold last year. Sales of the BMW M3 Sedan introduced in March 2008 amounted to 3 253 units, with the BMW M3 Convertible launched in May 2008 accounting for an even more impressive 4 169 cars.

Worldwide sales of the BMW M5 available as both a Sedan and Touring have also developed far more successfully than with the former model: In the 2008 year of business no less than
2 465 BMW M5s went to customers the world over.

Last but not least, both the BMW M6 Coupe and the BMW M6 Convertible still retain all of their fascinating class, no less than 1 102 customers opting for the high-performance Coupe and 1 158 customers choosing the equally outstanding Convertible.

This truly excellent annual result was rounded off by the ongoing success of the BMW Z4 M Roadster and the BMW Z4 M Coupe, which reached the end of their production cycle in August 2008: In this case no less than 699 Roadsters and 739 Coupes went to true connoisseurs of sporting, purist two-seaters.

Consistent growth in all major markets.

The great enthusiasm for the top performance, authentic design and motorsport technology offered by BMW M Automobiles is a global phenomenon. Precisely this is why all major market regions the world over contribute to the dynamic increase in sales. Once again, the USA, accounting for 10 663 units delivered to customers, was the most significant individual market. In the home country of the particularly large but not so dynamic street cruiser, the sports cars from BMW M GmbH showed an increase in sales by almost 70 per cent over the previous year.

Germany, the company's home market, became the second most significant sales region for BMW M GmbH in 2008, with 2 777 new cars bearing the M logo registered in Germany, an increase over 2007 by approximately 37 per cent. Showing equally impressive growth of more than 20 per cent to 2 469 units, Great Britain and Northern Ireland once again come third in the list of the most important markets for BMW M cars.

BMW M GmbH achieved by far its highest growth rate in relative terms in Canada, with customer deliveries increasing by almost 130 per cent to 1 114 cars. Sales figures also reached the four-digit range in Italy (1 072 units/ + 31 per cent) and Japan (1 063/ + 6 per cent).

Significant increase in sales of M Sports Packages.

Sales of Sports Packages now available for the BMW 1 Series, the BMW 3 Series, the BMW 5 Series, the BMW 6 Series as well as the BMW X3 and the BMW X5 likewise showed significant growth in 2008. The fascinating technology and flair of these design, suspension and interior options derived authentically from motorsport appeal particularly to drivers of the BMW 3 Series: In 2008 more than 58 000 purchasers of a BMW 3 Series took the opportunity to highlight the dynamic profile of their car even more clearly through the harmoniously balanced features and components offered within the M Sports Package.

A further important milestone is that more than 41 000 BMW 1 Series were likewise equipped with a Sports Package in 2008, representing an increase over the previous year by approximately 60 per cent. In all, the number of M Sports Packages sold worldwide increased by more than 7 per cent to 156 139.

The most significant sales market for M Sports Packages is Great Britain and Ireland, followed by Germany, with sales figures continuing to increase in both markets in 2008.

Personal style growing in significance: BMW Individual continuing on its road of success.

Expanding the range of products to an even higher level, BMW M GmbH has made the portfolio of BMW Individual even more attractive. Exquisite materials for the interior, top-end entertainment systems, exclusive paintwork options and light-alloy rims, as well as further exterior highlights enable the customer to enjoy the sheer driving pleasure so typical of the brand in particularly exclusive style.

In 2008 no less than 6 589 particularly demanding customers took the opportunity to convert their BMW, through selected design and equipment features from the broad portfolio of BMW Individual, into a genuine one-off masterpiece reflecting their personal style to the last detail.

In all, more than 30 000 cars were upgraded worldwide by way of all kinds of BMW Individual modifications, thus offering truly exclusive and unmistakable character. This is an increase in sales of such special features from BMW Individual by more than 30 per cent.

"This development", states Ludwig Willisch, "clearly proves that customers of BMW as the leading premium brand show particular preference for genuine exclusivity and individual style - and this trend is growing".
Demand for BMW Individual increased especially in Great Britain and Ireland, which have indeed become the most important sales markets for products from BMW Individual.

Enjoying sheer driving pleasure in superior style: BMW Group Driver Training.

Driver Training developed and organised by BMW M GmbH remains consistently popular. In 2008 alone more than 15 000 participants completed a training programme in various categories of BMW Driver Training, MINI Driver Training, and BMW Motorcycle Rider Training. The choice of training courses extends from beginners' seminars all the way to the target-oriented training of motorsport skills on a race track. The know-how conveyed in the process by professional instructors enables participants to enjoy driving pleasure in particular superior style.

Introduced in 2008, EfficientDynamics training combined with safety exercises proved particularly popular last year. "This new concept focusing in particular on fuel-efficient driving and safety obviously gives our customers exactly what they are looking for and was therefore chosen by a large number of new participants experiencing BMW Driver Training in this way for the first time", states Willisch.

New models, products and activities setting new momentum in 2009.

The significant increase in customer deliveries in 2008 shows clearly that the particular thrill of the cars and products marketed by BMW M GmbH also has a strong impact under generally difficult market conditions. Through their authentic design, highlights in technology based on years of experience in motorsport, and a harmonious overall concept, the wide range of models and other products from BMW M GmbH rank truly unique in the market. So the letter "M" continues to point in the right direction for the customer looking for a truly outstanding driving experience based on top performance and exclusivity all in one.

The decisive steps for continuing this story of success have already been taken: In the course of 2009 BMW M GmbH will once again be expanding its range of high-performance sports cars, carrying over the characteristics so typical of M to yet another vehicle segment.
At the same time the wide range of products available in M Sports Packages and through BMW Individual, as well as the range of BMW Driver Training options, will continue to gain further appeal. Indeed, the market launch of BMW Individual for the new BMW 7 Series marks the starting point in further expanding the already wide range of products, offering perfect options tailored to both current and future models alike.

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Best year ever: 2008 – Record sales for Mercedes-AMG GmbH

* 24,200 AMG high-performance vehicles delivered worldwide
* Germany is second-strongest market with 34 per cent growth
* 73 per cent increase for AMG sports package

Mercedes-AMG GmbH is celebrating the most successful year in its company history. AMG, the performance brand within Mercedes-Benz Cars, succeeded in increasing unit sales worldwide by 19 per cent, selling 24,200 vehicles (previous year 20,300) and bucking the market trend in extremely difficult conditions. As in previous years, the USA was the strongest market for AMG with a share of 38 per cent of total sales. Germany came in second place (13 per cent), followed by Japan (8 per cent). The German market has developed very positively with a clear increase of 34 per cent compared with the previous year. The greatest growth markets of 2008 include amongst others China and Brazil with rates of increase of 260 per cent and 565 per cent respectively. With these figures AMG confirms its leading position amongst high-performance vehicle brands and at the same time further expands its market share in the high-performance segment.

The C 63 AMG made a considerable contribution to the success of 2008 with 8100 vehicles delivered. The C 63 AMG, available as a saloon and as an estate, is thereby the most successful AMG automobile of all time. The new SL 63 AMG also developed positively, with 3,050 enthusiastic purchasers in 2008.

In addition, a further chapter of the Black Series success story was relayed to the world with the SL 65 AMG Black Series, limited to 350 units – and enchanted the media and demanding AMG customers alike.

Successful: AMG sports package and AMG Driving Academy

The AMG sports package also made a positive contribution to the year's success. The striking sporty equipment packages are available for numerous Mercedes lines and were sought after by more customers than ever in 2008; the increase over 2007 amounted to 73 per cent.

The AMG Driving Academy, founded in 2007, registered twice as many applications as in 2007. The strength of demand for high-class racing circuit training and events has led AMG to undertake a considerable expansion of the AMG Driving Academy options for 2009.

Individual customer attention and first class customer care also played a crucial role in AMG's continually increasing success. Hence AMG is to establish 175 new AMG Performance Centers worldwide by the end of next year: its engagement in intensifying customer relations now covers 15 countries in total.

Environmentally compatible vehicle development initiatives

In addition to its passion for high-performance sports vehicles, Mercedes-AMG GmbH is also committed to social responsibility and is intensifying its engagement in the development of environmentally compatible vehicles. AMG is already "Best in Class" amongst its performance car subsidiary and sporting brand competitors in the field of consumption. All AMG vehicles will surpass the EU-5 standards which come into force from 2009 and also the EU-6 standards which will apply from 2014. To reduce consumption, AMG is shortly to introduce efficiency-increasing engine-generator management as well as regulated oil and water pumps. From 2010 AMG will equip its vehicles with direct petrol injection and with start-stop function. Through constantly increasing efficiency, AMG will from 2012 achieve a reduction in consumption of 30 per cent in comparison to present levels.

AMG was founded in 1967 by Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher and is considered to be a pioneer in the field of motor sport and refinement. The cooperation contract agreed with Daimler-Benz AG in 1990 was followed in 1999 by gradual integration into the then DaimlerChrysler AG. On 1 January 2005 DaimlerChrysler AG took 100 per cent of the shares. Today Mercedes-AMG GmbH is a vehicle manufacturer and AMG is the performance brand within Mercedes-Benz Cars. The subsidiary firm of Daimler AG is uniquely specialised in the field of high-performance vehicles and, with its sporty saloons, coupés, cabriolets, roadsters, SUVs and specially produced one-off vehicles, offers a product portfolio which leaves no customer wish unfulfilled. Mercedes-AMG possesses overall responsibility for design, aerodynamics and interior as well as drive system, engine, chassis, brakes and electronics, and ultimately for the final release of the AMG complete vehicle. In addition, marketing and sales-related aspects are handled independently.

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