Once again, I'm about to make one friend and more enemies than I need. It's time to crown the true-luxury sales king in the United States for 2009.
I define true luxury as a car with a sticker price of $45,000 or more. Why $45,000? Well, when SalesTales started this exercise, it was $40,000, which was the price at which the federal luxury tax kicked in. The tax is gone, but car prices continue to rise. Ergo, $45,000.
Automotive News Europe sister publication Automotive News estimates that 600,000 true-luxury cars were sold last year in the United States, about the same number as in 2008. The true-luxury total had dipped 30 percent in 2008.
The 2009 leader and new champion was the BMW brand, with 119,219. It was the closest race ever. BMW beat Mercedes-Benz by just 431 units.
Mercedes, which had an estimated 118,788 true-luxury sales last year, was the leader in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
BMW's 119,219 deliveries meant that 61 percent of its 196,502 sales were in the true-luxury category. Mercedes was a fraction better at 62 percent.
BMW and Mercedes finished second and third in the overall luxury segment. Lexus led that group, but 58 percent of Lexus sales were taken by the ES 350, IS 250 and 350 and RX 350 and 450h. All are priced below $45,000.