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.