http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-02/mercedes-u-dot-s-dot-sales-rise-7-percent-to-expand-lead-over-bmw

Bloomberg News

Mercedes U.S. Sales Rise 7% to Expand Lead Over BMW

October 03, 2012

Mercedes U.S. September Sales Rise 7% to Expand Lead Over BMW

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz U.S. sales through September rose 13 percent to 191,618, according to the Stuttgart, Germany-based automaker. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz, after a 7 percent sales gain in September, extended its lead over Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)’s BMW to 5,221 deliveries after nine months in the race to be the No. 1 U.S. luxury auto brand.

Mercedes, helped by updated versions of the C-Class compact sedan and GLK compact sport-utility vehicle, sold 23,156 vehicles in the U.S. last month, the automaker said yesterday in a statement. BMW’s U.S. sales rose 0.1 percent to 21,761 in September compared with the same month a year earlier. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Lexus rose 36 percent to 20,386.

For Mercedes, “the combination of the success of the new products as well as continued aggressive leasing specials that they put out there has given them the lead so far,” said Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst with TrueCar.com, a website the tracks auto sales.

The two German automakers are vying to be the top-selling luxury auto brand in the U.S. after BMW outsold Lexus last year. Lexus, hurt last year by vehicle shortages following natural disasters in Asia, had been the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. for 11 years. BMW finished 2011 with 2,715 more deliveries than Mercedes in the U.S.

“The moving parts are coming together nicely for us to have a nice finish for the year,” Steve Cannon, head of Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. operations, said last month in an interview.

BMW’s View

Mercedes U.S. sales through September rose 13 percent to 191,618, according to the Stuttgart, Germany-based automaker. BMW’s deliveries rose 4.9 percent to 186,397, the Munich-based automaker said yesterday.

The sales results don’t include Daimler’s cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles.

Ludwig Willisch, head of BMW’s U.S. operations, in an interview last month reiterated that his brand will remain on top for the year, helped by a new all-wheel-drive version of the 3 Series and new X1, a vehicle that’s a step below BMW’s X3 midsize sport-utility vehicle.

“What counts is that we are in the No. 1 position New Year’s Day and we plan to do that by a healthy margin,” he said.

Sales of the BMW 3 Series fell 17 percent to 7,731 in September, the company said. BMW reported 1,570 sales of the X1 last month, about half as many as the X3 SUV.

Mercedes sales have benefited this year from the updated C- Class sedan and new coupe version, which were introduced last year. U.S. sales of the C-Class rose 15 percent in September to 7,872. GLK U.S. deliveries surged 66 percent to 3,206 last month following an update to the compact SUV.

‘The Fight’

“We’re beating the 3 Series sedan-to-sedan” while the new C-Class coupe is “doing phenomenally well,” Cannon said in an interview last month. “We’re taking the fight to them.”

Through September, Lexus sales gained 26 percent to 170,990. Toyota has targeted a 25 percent increase to 250,000 vehicles this year.

Tim Morrison, vice president of Lexus sales and dealer development, told the Detroit Free Press last week that his brand is too far behind to take the 2012 luxury sales crown. “I don’t think we have a chance this year,” he said.

Sales of Tokyo-based Honda Motor Co. (7267)’s Acura brand rose 44 percent to 14,366 last month, the company said in a statement.

General Motors Co. (GM:US)’s Cadillac sales fell 1.3 percent to 12,579 vehicles in September, the Detroit-based automaker said in a statement yesterday.

Audi Gains

U.S. sales of Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi brand rose 26 percent last month to 12,302, the company said in a statement.

Porsche AG, the Stuttgart-based automaker that is now part of VW, sold 2,736 vehicles in the U.S. last month, a 26 percent increase, the company said in a statement.

Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti sold 9,445 vehicles last month, an 11 percent gain from a year earlier, the Yokohama, Japan- based company said in a statement.

Ford Motor Co. (F:US) sold 6,802 Lincolns in September, a 3.1 percent decrease from a year earlier, according to a statement from the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker.

Jaguar Land Rover deliveries rose 20 percent to 4,640 last month, the U.K. brands said in an e-mailed statement. Mumbai- based Tata Motors Ltd. (TTMT) owns Jaguar Land Rover.

The luxury sales competition normally shifts into higher gear during the final three months of the year.

“Seasonally, it’s some of the best numbers for them,” Toprak said yesterday. “The setup for a great end to the year is all there.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Higgins in Southfield, Michigan, at thiggins21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net


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