Business | Automotives

BMW gains on rivals in US luxury segment

Narrows gap on Lexus and overtakes Mercedes-Benz.

  • By Tim Higgins, Bloomberg
  • Published: 00:00 December 6, 2010
  • Gulf News

Catching up
  • Image Credit: Bloomberg
  • A salesman at a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Colorado shows customers around. Mercedes reported an 8.4 per cent increase in November sales in the US to 18,208 units.

Munich: Bayerische Motoren Werke's namesake brand was the top-selling luxury auto marque in the US in November, overtaking Daimler's Mercedes-Benz in year-to-date deliveries and closing in on Toyota Motor's Lexus.

US sales for BMW in November rose 30 per cent from a year earlier to 20,097, the Munich-based automaker said in a statement.

Mercedes reported an 8.4 per cent increase to 18,208, while Lexus' deliveries fell 1.4 per cent to 18,240. BMW's performance "definitely puts a lot of pressure on Lexus", said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with California-based Edmunds.com, which studies auto sales. "It's all going to come down to December."

Lexus has been the top-selling luxury brand in the US since 2000 and is holding on to the title for the year. Lexus delivered 201,769 vehicles in the country this year through November, topping the 196,833 for BMW and 196,288 for Mercedes.

The totals don't include non-luxury models such as BMW's Mini cars or Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler's Smart cars and Sprinter vans. BMW and Mercedes, helped by new products and Toyota's recalls, offered smaller discounts last month than a year earlier while Lexus more than doubled incentives, according to discount-tracking website TrueCar.com.

"Japanese companies have a lot of internal pride, and I'm sure there is a lot of internal politics and pressures that push them in this direction," said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with Santa Monica, California-based TrueCar.

Sales incentives

BMW reduced sales incentives and discounts 43 per cent to an average of $3,162 (Dh11,610) per vehicle last month, while Mercedes' decreased them 1 per cent to $4,195, TrueCar said. Lexus increased incentives to an average of $3,124 per vehicle from $1,476 last year.

Lexus will top BMW and Mercedes in sales for the full year, said Brian Smith, vice-president of US Lexus sales. "It will be an 11th year for Lexus, in terms of luxury car and SUV sales," Smith said on a conference call.

The sales race in the luxury market suggests the economy is improving, said Paul Ballew, chief economist for Nationwide Mutual Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. "Luxury retailers, not just car manufacturers, have come back pretty briskly," Ballew, a former sales analyst for General Motors, said in a telephone interview.

Sales of the redesigned Mercedes E-Class sedan, which was introduced in 2009, have risen 47 per cent this year, including a 3.4 per cent gain in November, the company said.

Sales of BMW's redesigned 5-Series, introduced earlier this year, rose 58 per cent to 5,042 in November.

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