BMW leads U.S. luxury sales in February
MICHIGAN (Bloomberg) – BMW AG's namesake brand sold more cars and SUVs in the U.S. than Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and General Motors Co.'s Cadillac in February.
Cadillac's U.S. sales rose 70 percent from a year ago to 15,768, as it topped Lexus and Mercedes for the first time since June 2005. BMW reported an 8.7 percent increase last month to 16,416, overtaking Mercedes-Benz as the top-selling luxury line in the U.S. Mercedes sales rose 4 percent to 15,464, while Lexus, last year's luxury leader, rose 0.2 percent to 13,814.
Lexus fell to fourth place for the month after holding off the German automakers to keep the top spot for the 11th consecutive year. Through two months, BMW leads Mercedes 32,321 to 31,862.
BMW's incentives fell 23 percent from last year, to $3,674 per car, while Mercedes discounts rose 4.4 percent to $3,289 per vehicle, TrueCar, a California-based website that tracks industry incentives, said. Toyota spent an average of $2,295 per vehicle on Lexus incentives, up 39 percent, TrueCar said.
"GM offered aggressive incentives to employees and friends in February," said Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst with TrueCar. "That helped GM overall and clearly helped Cadillac."
Cadillac ranked fourth in U.S. luxury sales last year and hasn't led in annual luxury sales since 1997, according to GM.
Ford Motor Co. sold 5,948 Lincoln cars and trucks in February, an 11 percent decrease from a year earlier, according to a statement from the automaker.
BMW rose to the top on the strength of new models such as the X3 SUV and its 3-Series line of cars, Toprak said.
"BMW has better product at the moment," Toprak said. "They have a newer product lineup that brings people into the showroom without need for much incentives."
The results exclude Daimler's Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles.
BMW's sales would have been stronger if the German automaker could build more all-wheel-drive versions of its 3-Series sedan and X3 models, said Jim O'Donnell, president and CEO of BMW of North America.
"I'm disappointed with February's result," O'Donnell said yesterday in an interview. "Our 3-Series performance was off by at least 2,000 cars because of the lack of all-wheel-drive models. We should have been up at 18,000" sales for the month.
Mercedes sales were hurt by snow storms in the Northeast and Midwest, said Ernst Lieb, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.
"This wasn't an easy month," Lieb said Tuesday in an interview. "We were definitely impacted by the weather conditions."
Mercedes sales will pick up later this year as new models such as the C-class coupe, SLK and CLS arrive in showrooms, Lieb said.
While Cadillac moved into the top tier in luxury sales, Lieb said he doesn't view the GM division as a key competitor.
"We are focusing mainly on two competitors, BMW and Lexus," Lieb said. "That's where our customers are cross shopping, not at Cadillac."
U.S. deliveries of Volkswagen AG's Audi brand rose 25 percent to 7,753 vehicles, its highest sales ever for February.
Porsche AG, the Stuttgart-based automaker merging with VW, said sales rose 32 percent to 2,019 last month, its best February since 2006.
February Sales for Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti rose 30 percent to 9,144 vehicles, the company said.
Honda Motor Co., said sales for its Acura brand rose 21 percent to 10,796, last month.
Tata Motors Ltd., based in Mumbai, said its Land Rover line rose 26 percent to 2,555 models last month. U.S. sales for its Jaguar brand fell 9 percent to 692 cars in February.