Lincoln Sales Rise, as Mercedes and BMW Flatten and Cadillac's Crash

Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Lincoln, which has been the whipping boy of the luxury car makers, made impressive gains in U.S. sales during July. Sales of market leaders Mercedes and BMW flattened year over year, and the drop in General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Cadillac sales accelerated.

BMW and Mercedes can afford a lackluster month, because they are the category leaders, along with Toyota Motor Corp.’s (NYSE: TM) Lexus division. Last month, BMW Group sales dropped 0.2% to 32,161. However, BMW sales include MINI. Its sales without that count rose 2.1% to 26,970. For BMW, a small number of models caused the improvement, according to management:

In July, notable vehicle sales included the BMW 2 Series which increased 61.1 percent to 1,028 vehicles, the BMW X3 which increased 49.5 percent to 2,340 vehicles and the BMW X5 which increased 123.6 percent to 6,011 vehicles.

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Mercedes-Benz USA sales rose only 1.2% to 27,526. As was the case with BMW, a few models led the improvement:

July sales for the Mercedes-Benz brand were led by the C-, E- and M-Class model lines. The C-Class took the top spot with 6,384 units, up 12.0% from the same month last year. The E-Class followed with July sales of 4,893, while the M-Class rounded out the top three at 3,851.

Lincoln’s division has needed a rebound in sales for some time. There have been suggestions that Ford shutter the brand because it has posted such poor numbers. Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) pulled sales higher, as the segment posted an improvement of 21.3% over July of last year to 9,536. Lincoln car sales dropped 3.6% to 3,186. Led by sharp improvements in MKC and MKX sales, SUV numbers were up 39.3% to 6,350.

Cadillac’s drop came despite its management’s forecast that the brand is in the midst of a turnaround. Cadillac sales fell 7.1% in July to 14,154 compared to July of 2014. The numbers would have been far worse if the performance of its SRX crossover were not so strong. Its sales grew by 46.8% to 6,753. The SRX was Cadillac’s top-selling vehicle. Numbers for its cars were abysmal. ATS sales fell 38.5% to 1,588. Sales of its CTS dropped 27.5% to 1,515. Sales of the XTS dropped 32.9% to 1,302. Cadillac management has run out of excuses.

Even with a slowdown in Mercedes and BMW sales, raw numbers show the U.S. luxury brands still lag well behind. At least Lincoln has started to gain some ground.

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