Mercedes Wins September Luxury Market Despite Huge BMW Incentives

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For the month of September, Mercedes-Benz USA reported total sales of its Mercedes-badged passenger vehicles of 29,500 in the United States, up 1.7% year over year. Its Germany-based rival, BMW Group, reported U.S. sales of 25,389, down 4.6% year over year.

The Mercedes win came despite the fact that BMW incentive spending in the month was up 44.3% year over year to an average of $6,732 per vehicle, compared with an average of $4,342 per vehicle, down 9.3% year over year, paid out by Mercedes parent Daimler. The incentive totals were estimated by TrueCar.

For the year to date, Mercedes sales are down 0.3% to 249,204 and BMW sales are down 7.9% to 230,133. BMW has the lead in U.S. sales of luxury cars for the past two years, so this is quite a shift, and BMW’s incentive spending indicates how hard it’s trying to keep its title.

The big winner for Mercedes in September was its GLC/GLK class compact sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which posted 4,873 unit sales, up 137% year over year. For the year to date, sales of these vehicles are up 78.6% to 36,390 units. The only other model that showed a significant gain on significant sales was the GL/GLS class full-size luxury SUV, with total sales of 2,782 units, up 13.6% year over year. Year to date, sales of the GL/GLS are up 9.9%.

The company’s new E-class luxury sedan saw sales improve 7.9% to 4,842 units, but year-to-date sales on the car are down 5.9%.

At BMW, the X1 crossover got a sales bump of 190.8% to 2,463 units in September, and the new 7-Series experienced a sales jump of nearly 800% to 1,201 on its all-new model. The X3 compact crossover and the midsize X5 saw sales rise 26.2% (3,829 units) and 48.5% (3,749 units), respectively.

Automotive News cites Ford vice-president of U.S. marketing who observed that the market for large Cadillac and Lincoln sedans “is entirely gone. And to some extent it has been replaced by luxury crossovers and SUVs. To another extent, it’s been replaced by full-size SUVs.”

One last note: Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) posted total sales of 25,801 in its luxury Lexus division in September, finishing second to Mercedes and just ahead of BMW. Like the other luxury carmakers, sales of its truck-based luxury vehicles rose sharply: NX sales rose 52% year over year in September, GX sales rose 23% and LX sales rose 124%.