Monday, December 03, 2012

(BN) Mercedes’s 2012 U.S. Luxury Lead Narrows After BMW Gain

(BN) Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)'s BMW U.S. sales rose 45 percent in November, further chipping away at Daimler AG (DAI)'s Mercedes-Benz in luxury-auto deliveries this year.

Sales for BMW increased to 31,213 vehicles last month, boosted by a 64 percent gain for its 5 Series sedan. Mercedes reported a 13 percent increase from a year earlier to 30,315, helped by sales of the E-Class sedan, which rose 59 percent to 8,126. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)'s Lexus rose 17 percent to 22,719.

November's results narrowed Mercedes's lead to 1,849 vehicles, from 2,748 at the end of October. The two German automakers entered the final month of 2012 vying to be the top luxury-auto brand in the U.S. after BMW and Mercedes outsold Lexus last year. Lexus, hurt in 2011 by vehicle shortages following natural disasters in Asia, had been the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. for 11 years.

"You got some very aggressive year-end pushes going on, especially on the luxury end, where there is one hell of a race going on," Paul Ballew, chief economist at Dun & Bradstreet in Short Hills, New Jersey, said in an interview.

Mercedes's U.S. sales through November rose 12 percent to 245,910, the Stuttgart, Germany-based automaker said yesterday. Munich-based BMW said sales rose 10 percent to 244,061. For all of 2011, BMW outsold Mercedes in the U.S. by 2,715 vehicles. Lexus's U.S. sales totaled 213,559 vehicles through November, a 23 percent gain from a year earlier.

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

Sandy's Impact

Superstorm Sandy in October hit the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, which is home to about a quarter of U.S. luxury-vehicle sales, Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence at, said yesterday in an interview. The need for replacement vehicles, coupled with a tightening sales race and typical holiday season deals, should lead to one of the best- selling Decembers on record, he said.

"When the industry got a boost from the storm, the luxury- auto makers got a bigger boost than everybody else," Toprak said. "That boost is going to continue into December, which is usually a good month anyway. But with all these factors combining, we'll probably finish the year with one of the best volume numbers we've ever seen."

General Motors Co. (GM)'s Cadillac rose 30 percent to 14,517 vehicles in November, helped by a 13 percent gain in sales of the SRX crossover sport-utility vehicle and the new XTS sedan, the Detroit-based automaker said in a statement.

Lincoln, Acura

Ford Motor Co. (F) sold 5,732 Lincolns in November, a 9.1 percent decrease from a year earlier, according to a statement from the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker. Ford said separately it's starting a new ad campaign to try to revive the luxury brand. The campaign will include an ad during the 2013 Super Bowl football game to be broadcast by CBS.

Sales of Tokyo-based Honda Motor Co. (7267)'s Acura brand rose 24 percent to 12,246 last month, the company said in a statement.

Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti sold 11,897 vehicles last month, a 41 percent gain from a year earlier, the Yokohama, Japan-based company said in a statement.

Porsche AG, the Stuttgart-based automaker that is now part of Volkswagen AG (VOW), sold 3,865 vehicles in the U.S. last month, a 71 percent increase, the company said in a statement.

U.S. sales of Volkswagen's Audi brand rose 24 percent last month to 12,067, the company said in a statement.


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