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BMW Chips Away at 2013 Mercedes Sales Lead With July Gain

BMW Chips Away at 2013 Mercedes Sales Lead With 3 Series, X5
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s status as annual leader for 2012 is based on reported sales. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG boosted U.S. sales of its 3 Series cars and X5 sport-utility vehicles last month, helping the automaker narrow the luxury-vehicle lead of Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz.

Deliveries of the BMW brand rose 13 percent in July to 24,043, while Mercedes reported a gain of 23 percent from a year earlier to 23,648, according to statements yesterday. Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus posted a 26 percent increase to 23,031.

The monthly results trim Mercedes’s lead this year to 1,124 vehicles as the two German automakers compete for the annual sales crown BMW has held for two years. Daimler signaled last month it expects to come up short again in 2013.

“I don’t think we’ll be No. 1 at the end of the year and that’s OK,” Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche told reporters July 12 in Seguin, Ontario. “We won’t play any games. I’m not sure that applies to our competition.”

As recently as May, Mercedes had a lead of more than 4,000 vehicles. Mercedes sales for the year through July gained 12 percent to 165,598, Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler said yesterday. BMW’s deliveries for the period rose 11 percent to 164,474. The figures don’t include Daimler’s cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles.

BMW’s status as annual leader for 2012 is based on reported sales. By vehicle registrations, Mercedes topped BMW last year, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co.

BMW, Mercedes

Sales of Munich-based BMW’s 3 Series, its top-selling model, surged 29 percent to 9,890, helped by the new 320i. BMW’s X5 climbed 17 percent to 2,674. Mercedes was led by gains of 34 percent to 7,604 for the C-Class sedan and 73 percent to 3,092 for the M-Class SUV.

The 320i starts at $32,550. Mercedes’s C-Class starts at $35,350. Mercedes’s CLA coupe, which is scheduled to arrive at U.S. showrooms in September, begins at $29,900.

The two largest German luxury-auto makers, which lack a more affordable feeder brand, are competing on incentives to lure new buyers, said Kevin Tynan, Bloomberg Industries auto analyst.

“The last few months, BMW has been more aggressive than Mercedes on incentives,” Tynan said yesterday in an interview. “They both bottomed below $2,000 in September last year with the new model year and that’s more than doubled since. At some point, this just becomes a price war between those two guys.”

Lexus, Cadillac

Lexus reported an increase of 62 percent for the ES sedan and a 15 percent gain for the RX SUV. Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota said its luxury brand gained 12 percent to 141,446 vehicles this year through July. Lexus was the annual U.S. sales leader for 11 years until natural disasters in Asia curtailed 2011 output.

General Motors Co.’s Cadillac luxury-brand deliveries rose 17 percent last month to 15,652 on demand for the new ATS and XTS sedans. Through July, Cadillac sales climbed 30 percent to 99,331, Detroit-based GM said in a statement yesterday.

Honda Motor Co.’s Acura sales rose 18 percent to 15,150 last month, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement. The gains were led by SUVs, the new MDX, which rose 30 percent to 5,551, and the smaller RDX, which rose 48 percent to 3,936.

U.S. sales of Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand rose 12 percent to 13,064 in July, according to a statement. It was the brand’s 31st straight month of record sales. The gains included 52 percent for the Q5 SUV and 22 percent for the A6 sedan. Sales for the year have risen 14 percent to 87,341.

Porsche, Infiniti

Porsche, the Stuttgart-based automaker that’s now part of Volkswagen, posted a 36 percent gain in July to 3,820 vehicles in the U.S., a record for the month.

Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti slid 33 percent to 7,762, according to statement from the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker.

Ford Motor Co. sold 6,919 Lincolns in July, a decrease of 0.8 percent from a year earlier, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker said in a statement.

Land Rover sales rose 22 percent last month to 4,050, while Jaguar’s surged 60 percent to 1,613, according to a statement. The U.K.-based brands are owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd.

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