In October 2010, Lexus widened the luxury sales lead over Mercedes-Benz and BMW. For the first time in a decade, Mercedes-Benz is close to toppling Lexus for the bragging rights.
In October, Lexus sales rose 8.1 percent to 21,091 vehicles. BMW reported a 17 percent gain to 19,272 from the 16,443 units sold in October of last year and Mercedes posted an increase of less than 1 percent to 18,351.
Lexus, the top-selling U.S. luxury brand since 2000, is being challenged this year as Toyota copes with record recalls and as Mercedes and BMW benefit from new models. Lexus more than doubled average incentive spending in October to $2,152 a vehicle from $923 a year earlier, according to TrueCar.com, an auto pricing website.
The Toyota unit has been “much more aggressive than they’ve ever been,” Jim O’Donnell, president of BMW’s North American unit, said in a telephone interview for Bloomberg. “We’ve now got Lexus joining the fray where they’ve always stood on the sideline and sort of watched.”
Through the first 10 months of the year, Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 184,000 vehicles in the U.S., about 1,000 more than Lexus, according to Autodata Corp. But Lexus has been closing the gap in recent months. BMW is about 7,000 vehicles back.
The recently introduced 5 Series is expected to give BMW a sales boost in the upcoming months. “The new product effect clearly showed in October with our 5 Series sales momentum increasing, especially with the introduction of all-wheel-drive for regions where it is highly desired,” said Jim O’Donnell, President and CEO of BMW of North America.
BMW’s October gains were also held back by lack of inventory of the new X3, which is reaching showrooms late this year.
For Bloomberg, Jesse Toprak, an analyst with auto information company Truecar Inc said: “It will be a photo finish,” said . And that means that shoppers can expect “some unparalleled deals for the remainder of this year.”
In 2000, another close race took place between Lexus and Mercedes which fell short just a few hundred vehicles. In 2002, it was BMW’s turn to almost overthrown Lexus.
Audi’s sales are up 22% this year, and it is trying to crack the 100,000 sales mark for the first time. For October, Audi sold 8,128 vehicles, a 10.5% increase over the 7,358 vehicles sold in October 2009.
General Motors ((Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC only) is up 13 percent, Cadillac 15 percent. Ford managed to stay ahead of the market, and so continued its winning ways in October, 21 percent increase.
For full list of the October 2010 sales, here is a table courtesy of Autoblog: