Mercedes Wins Luxury Car Race Against BWM

Douglas A. McIntyre

Despite the fact that over a dozen luxury brands are sold in the United States, the monthly race for leadership in the category always comes down to Mercedes and BMW. These two top the category in market share and sales. This will not change in the foreseeable future. In November, Mercedes won the race, and it has also gained an advantage for the first 11 months.

The numbers posted by the two companies were mediocre in November. Mercedes sales rose 2% to 37,110 (this includes Sprinter and smart). BMW’s dropped 2.3% to 31,019 (this includes Mini sales). Through November, Mercedes sales have risen 6.8% to 318,838. BMW’s are higher by 9.7% for the same period to 298,212.

The models primarily involved in the BMW figures were the 3-Series and 4-Series. These are at the bottom of the BMW price ladder. Sales of the models rose 11.8% to 14,702. Another bright spot was sales of the flagship 7-Series, which is near the top of the BMW price range. Sales are tiny, but up 14.1% to 704.

Low-priced cars and light trucks accounted for the bulk of the improvement in Mercedes sales as well. Sales of the C-Class rose 17.5% to 9,259. The base price of the model is $40,400, cheap by luxury car standards. M-Class sales rose 19.9% to 5,190. The M-Class is in the middle of the Mercedes SUV line, with a base price of $43,800.

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A question that has been asked may times is whether BMW and Mercedes risk margins on lower priced vehicles and, in turn, whether that damages their brands.

Mercedes claimed some level of bragging rights, saying it “reported the highest monthly sales in its history with a best-ever November total of 34,578, compared to 34,376 units the same month last year.”

Mercedes leadership commented:

“November was one for the history books at Mercedes-Benz,” said Stephen Cannon, president and CEO of MBUSA. “Beyond record sales, our rise to the top spot in J.D. Power’s Sales Satisfaction Index shows our efforts on the customer experience front are resonating with owners.”

Better cars, but cheaper ones?