The U.S. auto industry ended October with way more treats than tricks as many makers enjoyed best-ever Octobers as trucks and SUVs flew off dealer lots joined by plenty of luxury vehicles although one brand did take a hit: BMW.
The Bavarian maker is locked in a battle with Lexus and Mercedes for luxury vehicle sales superiority in the U.S. and last month didn’t help its cause as sales fell 3.8% in October. The brand’s utility vehicle held up their end of the bargain, posting a 56.7% gain, but car sales offset those gains.
“Trends in the luxury vehicle market are becoming more evident with the October sales another indicator of how important Sports Activity Vehicles are becoming to our market segment,” said Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO, BMW of North America.
“With the all-new BMW X1 just now going on sale and availability of the always popular X3 and X5 improving, we expect good growth in the final two months of the year.”
Adding to BMW’s problems is the fact that its competitors posted increases last month. Mercedes bested its German rival by posting a 3.7% increase, with the E-Class helping to lead the way with an 18.4% jump. The maker’s SUV group was up as well. Overall, the vehicles unit of the maker was up 1.3%, but it’s commercial van group was up 30.8%, leading to the significant increase overall.
“We’re on track for the best year we’ve ever had in this market as we head into the fourth quarter,” said Stephen Cannon, president and CEO of MBUSA. “The appetite for SUVs continues to grow and that’s creating very strong demand for our new GLE and GLE-Coupe. We’ll keep that momentum going with our new entry model, the GLC, at the end of the year.
However, Lexus celebrated the best October of the top three-selling luxury brands with sales up 13.2%.
“We continue to see strong sales for our luxury utility vehicles as evident by a solid month posted by NX and GX. The LS flagship luxury sedan and RC F coupe also posted gains that helped propel us to a best-ever October,” said Jeff Bracken, group vice president and general manager, Lexus Division.
“We are most excited about the arrival of the all-new RX as it hits showrooms today. We expect this new model to continue energizing the brand as we close the year.”
Other luxury models were winners too as Land Rover posted a 97.6% jump, although Jaguar was down 1.9%, and Infiniti rode new models to a stout increase of 23.2% in October.
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In its first full month of sales, the new QX50 luxury crossover had its best October with an increase of 415.1% to 989 units. For 2016, the QX50 is updated with new exterior styling as well as a longer wheelbase that provides 4.3-inches of additional rear legroom.
The QX60 7-passenger luxury crossover also saw its most successful October with sales of 3,669, an increase of 60.6%. In all, Infiniti crossovers and sport utility vehicles were up 63.3% over prior year.
While the sale of luxury vehicles coming in strong wasn’t necessarily a surprise, most were holding their breath to see how Volkswagen would be impacted by the ongoing diesel scandal and if any of sibling companies – Audi and Porsche – might suffer some residual effect.
VW managed to post a slight gain – likely the last it’ll see for some time – of .24% with GTI, Passat and Tiguan up for October.
“We would like to again thank our customers for their patience and loyalty,” said Mark McNabb, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America. “Volkswagen is committed to making things right and actively working to restore trust.”
The sibling companies also seemed no worse for wear as Porsche was up 11% in its best October ever led by the SUVs: Cayenne and Macan that were up 104% and 22.5% respectively.
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Audi also marked its best-ever October with increase of 16.8% and its 58th consecutive month of increasing sales.
“Establishing continuous sales records is the result of our long-term strategy to consistently raise the Audi profile and steadily develop new products, alongside the dedication and hard work of our dealer partners,” said Mark Del Rosso, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Audi of America.
“As we enter the holiday selling season, we remain optimistic that our Season of Audi Sales Event will trigger demand across all model lines to close out the historic year of 2015.”
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The A4 model achieved strong sales in October 2015 with a 27.7% increase over year-earlier sales. The Audi A7 and A3 models also performed well, with year-over-year increases of 15.9% and 14.8%, respectively.