SOUTHFIELD, Michigan – BMW AG's namesake brand topped sales of Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and other luxury auto makes in the U.S. last month, widening its lead for 2011 as the European automakers boosted discounts.
BMW's U.S. deliveries, helped by sales of SUVs and the new 5-series sedan, rose 16 percent in May, from a year earlier to 20,651, the automaker said Wednesday in a statement.
U.S. dealers sold 18,886 Mercedes-Benz cars and SUVs in the same period, 1.8 percent more than a year earlier, Daimler said in a statement. The results exclude Daimler's Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus sales last month tumbled 45 percent to 12,305, the company said in a statement. Lexus has been the top-selling luxury auto brand in the U.S. on an annual basis for the past 11 years. Its lead over BMW narrowed to 9,216 sales last year, less than half the 19,473 gap in 2009. Mercedes finished in third place last year.
"It would appear Lexus has suffered from a lack of supply," Jim O'Donnell, head of BMW's U.S. sales operations, said in an interview. "That's unfortunate, but it's one of those things."
U.S. deliveries of Volkswagen AG's Audi brand rose 14 percent to 10,457 vehicles, the company said in an e-mail.
German 'photo finish'
BMW deliveries for the first five months of the year rose 13 percent to 92,068 vehicles, to lead Mercedes' 90,274 sales and the 77,237 deliveries by Lexus.
U.S. sales of BMW's 5-series models rose 84 percent last month when X3 SUV deliveries more than tripled to 2,350, the company said.
"BMW and Mercedes-Benz clearly will be on a photo finish for the rest of the year," Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends at TrueCar.com in Santa Monica, California, said in a telephone interview. "Lexus, for the first time in many years, is clearly out of the running for the top spot."
Mercedes' discounts rose by 27 percent per vehicle in May and BMW increased its incentives by 6.7 percent, while discounts on Lexus models fell 51 percent, according to Truecar.
Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti sold 6,389 vehicles, a 21 percent decline from a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Honda Motor Co., based in Tokyo, said in a statement that sales for its Acura brand fell 24 percent to 9,000 last month.
Ford Motor Co. sold 7,399 Lincoln luxury vehicles in May, 4.6 percent fewer than a year earlier, according to a statement from the automaker.
Land Rover deliveries rose 6.7 percent to 2,891, while Jaguar sales gained 32 percent to 1,271, Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd. said in an e-mailed statement.