Mercedes-Benz continues to set the pace for luxury car sales in the U.S. after it enjoyed a record-setting April while its primary competitor, BMW, took a substantial hit in what was a white-hot month for auto sales.
In fact, the hit was strong enough to allow Lexus to slide past BMW into second place in on the list by more than 3,500 vehicles year-to-date.
Mercedes-Benz sold 29,236 vehicles in April, up 0.2% for the month, pushing its total for the year to 105,005 units. Overall, the brand is down for the year by 2.2% to 107,340 vehicles. Not surprisingly, the love of sport-utilities isn’t limited to non-luxury brands. The GLA and GLC/GLK are up 15.9% and 76.9% respectively for the year.
Officials at the German automaker appear to be very optimistic about what the next few months will bring after a sluggish start to the year had some observers holding their breath for April.
“We are heading into a strong second-quarter with a minimum of nine new model launches in the months ahead,” said Dietmar Exler, president and CEO of MBUSA. “We expect to see strong sales momentum as we move into the summer months.”
Sales of BMW brand vehicles decreased 7.4% in April for a total of 24,951 compared with 26,952 vehicles sold in April 2015. BMW’s really suffering through 2016 thus far with sales down 9.4% to 95,564 units. It’s a drop of almost 10,000 vehicles when compared with the 105,444 vehicles sold in the first four months of 2015.
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Not surprisingly, BMW executives brushed off the tough month and tough start of the year.
“April is always a volatile month for BMW with model changeover taking place in some of our very popular X models, and the improving consumer confidence that typically follows the arrival of Spring still developing,” said Ludwig Willisch, president and CEO, BMW of North America.
“The numbers for the BMW 2 Series and the BMW X1 show the very strong following our smaller vehicles continue achieving and I expect our high demand X models to show gains as availability improves in months ahead.”
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BMW’s loss has been a big gain for Lexus. Toyota’s luxury brand, which has been the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. in the past, maintained its second-place position despite a 3.8% sales drop in April and for the year-to-date.
Lexus dealers have moved 99,103 vehicles thus far in 2016 compared with 103,056 at this time last year. Again, the brand is being carried by its SUV sales.
“Not surprisingly, the industry’s strong sales results in April are powered by consumer demand for luxury utility vehicles,” said Jeff Bracken Lexus group vice president and general manager.
“On the heels of four consecutive best-ever sales months for Lexus’ LUV and crossover models, we feel confident that our range of models, especially the RX and NX, are very well positioned to meet the shifting consumer demand in the luxury market.”
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Lexus luxury utility vehicles up more than 22% for the month with the NX up 11.5%, the RX up nearly 29% and the LX up nearly 64% for the month.