Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus, which lost its crown as the top-selling luxury auto brand in the U.S. last year, boosted sales 34 percent last month to move past Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.
It’s the first time the Japanese luxury brand beat both of its German competitors to be No. 1 in monthly sales since December 2010 before inventory was hurt by last year’s natural disasters in Asia. Lexus sold 24,237 vehicles in August, the Toyota City, Japan-based company said in a statement yesterday.
While Lexus won the month, it still trails Mercedes by almost 18,000 and BMW by more than 14,000. Toyota’s brand has a “very low” chance of closing such a large gap in the final four months of 2012, said Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst with TrueCar.com, a website that follows auto sales.
“You can’t count them out,” he said yesterday. “This month was a great example of Lexus’s resilience in terms of their brand loyalty and the potential they can tap into if they become aggressive with their marketing efforts.”
U.S. sales of Mercedes rose 11 percent to 20,557 last month, extending its lead in the race for the luxury crown this year to more than 3,800 over BMW. Mercedes U.S. sales through August rose 14 percent to 168,462, according to the Stuttgart, Germany-based automaker.
“With an all-time record setting year so far and now with exciting product in the pipeline, including the all-new GL-Class currently on its way to dealers across the country, we plan to build on this momentum through the end of the year,” Steve Cannon, head of Mercedes in the U.S., said in a statement.
Mercedes’ expanded on its previous lead over BMW of more than 100 U.S. deliveries through July. The sales results don’t include Daimler’s cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles.
The BMW brand, helped in July by incentives aimed at encouraging dealers to buy demo vehicles, declined 19 percent in August to 16,835. BMW, which overtook Lexus last year to become the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S., sold 164,636 through August, a 5.6 percent gain, the Munich-based company said. BMW beat Mercedes last year by 2,715 deliveries in the U.S.
“August numbers showed how tight the supply of new vehicles has been for us,” Ludwig Willisch, head of BMW of North America, said in a statement.
Willisch has predicted that the BMW brand will again finish No. 1 following the introduction of the redesigned 3 Series sedan. The all-wheel-drive version of the compact sedan and new X1 compact sport-utility vehicle are expected to boost company sales, BWM has said.
“All indicators show sales momentum increasing and with the model year change now complete, we have ambitious plans for the months ahead,” Willisch said in the statement.
BMW U.S. deliveries fell 0.5 percent in July. Before that month, the last time BMW had a year-over-year sales decline in the U.S. was in May 2010 when the company had limited availability of the 5 Series and X3 sport-utility vehicle before redesigned versions arrived at dealerships.
Through August, Lexus sales gained 25 percent to 150,604. Toyota has targeted a 25 percent increase to 250,000 vehicles this year.
The new Lexus ES, which went on sale last month, and GS sedans were important for boosting the luxury brand’s sales, Tim Morrison, vice president of Lexus sales, told reporters on a conference call yesterday.
“ES was the last big one that we were waiting for,” he said. “Between GS, LX and RX and RX hybrid and the GS F-Sport, and the ES and ES hybrid, just all of that has come together for us nicely.”
Lexus also had its annual “Golden Opportunities” sales event, he said.
Sales of Tokyo-based Honda Motor Co.’s Acura brand rose 73 percent to 15,646 last month, the company said in a statement.
General Motors Co.’s Cadillac sales, helped by the new XTS full-sized sedan, rose 11 percent to 14,704 vehicles in August, the Detroit-based automaker said in a statement.
U.S. sales of Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand rose 13 percent last month to 11,527, the company said in a statement.
Porsche AG, the Stuttgart-based automaker that is now part of VW, sold 3,026 vehicles in the U.S. last month, a 39 percent increase, the company said in a statement.
Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti sold 11,155 vehicles last month, a 24 percent gain from a year earlier, the Yokohama, Japan-based company said in a statement.
Ford Motor Co. sold 8,141 Lincolns in August, a 1.7 percent increase from a year earlier, according to a statement from the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker.
Jaguar Land Rover deliveries rose 31 percent to 4,756, the U.K. brands said in an e-mailed statement. Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd. owns Jaguar Land Rover.