Mercedes tops BMW to extend U.S. luxury lead
DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Mercedes-Benz reported a 22 percent surge in U.S. sales last month, building on its early lead as it tries to unseat BMW as the leader in luxury-auto deliveries this year.
Mercedes said today it delivered 22,040 vehicles last month, its best February, helped by sales of the C-class sedan, which rose 39 percent to 7,302. BMW-brand sales increased 0.5 percent to 21,311 vehicles, boosted by a 22 percent gain for its X5 SUV. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus rose 3.9 percent to 17,339, led by the RX SUV, which gained 20 percent to 6,938 deliveries.
The two German automakers are vying to be the top luxury-auto brand in the U.S. after outselling Lexus the past two years. BMW vaulted to its second consecutive U.S. luxury crown with a December surge, based on reported sales. When measured by vehicle registrations, Mercedes topped BMW, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co.
"We're just carrying the momentum that we brought from last year into this year," Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, said in an interview today. "We haven't even gotten to any of our new products yet."
For the first two months, sales of Mercedes vehicles gained 16 percent to 44,541. BMW's 2013 deliveries have increased 0.6 percent to 37,824. Lexus rose 16 percent to 33,550.
The sales results don't include Daimler's cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles. Lexus was the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. for 11 years until natural disasters in Asia curtailed production in 2011.
Mercedes benefited from an almost 2-minute commercial that aired during the Super Bowl last month, introducing the CLA sedan, which will go on sale in September at $29,900. The spot, with model Kate Upton, singer Usher and actor Willem Dafoe, boosted online shopping activity for the brand and the C-class, Cannon said.
"CLA really is kind of a halo car from underneath that I think recalibrated people's price-value perception of the Mercedes-Benz brand," Cannon said.
Mercedes-Benz incentive spending rose 19 percent to $4,218 per vehicle, compared with a 4.5 percent increase to $3,512 for BMW, according to TrueCar Inc.
General Motors Co.'s Cadillac rose 20 percent to 13,845 vehicles in February, helped by a pair of new sedans, the XTS and the ATS, according to a GM statement.
U.S. sales of Volkswagen AG's Audi brand rose 27 percent to 10,877, the company said in a statement. It was the brand's 26th straight month of record sales, which included a 14 percent jump for the A4 sedan to 3,089.
Sales of Honda Motor Co.'s Acura brand rose 0.9 percent to 11,364 last month, the company said in a statement.
Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti sold 9,147 vehicles, a 1 percent decline from a year earlier, the automaker said in a statement.
Ford Motor Co. sold 4,883 Lincolns in February, a 29 percent decrease from a year earlier, according to a Ford statement. Ford is starting a new ad campaign to try to revive the luxury brand, including airing spots during last month's Super Bowl.
The decline was because of a shortage of redesigned MKZ sedans at dealerships. Ford said Lincoln dealers should be fully stocked by the beginning of April. Ford sold 945 MKZs last month, a 62 percent drop from a year earlier. Ford has started delivering 100 vehicles a day to dealers, Ken Czubay, Ford's U.S. sales chief, said on a conference call.
Porsche, which is now part of Volkswagen, reported in a statement that it sold 2,805 vehicles in the U.S. last month, a 31 percent gain.
Land Rover sales rose 20 percent to 3,905, while Jaguar's gained 12 percent to 1,148, according to an e-mailed statement. The U.K. brands are owned by India's Tata Motors Ltd.Contact Automotive News