- Deliveries for three largest premium brands fell in May
- Daimler brand’s sport utility gains curb monthly decline
Mercedes-Benz outsold its luxury auto competitors in the U.S. in May, building its lead in a down month thanks to continued demand for its sport utility vehicles.
Deliveries slid 1 percent from a year earlier to 29,299, the Daimler AG unit said in a statement Wednesday. Mercedes posted a 64 percent gain for its GLC and GLK SUVs. Both of its major rivals reported wider declines for the month, with BMW AG’s namesake brand down 6.4 percent to 29,017 and Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus falling 10 percent to 26,682.
The luxury brands slowed along with the industry as a whole in May, which had two fewer sales days than the year-earlier month. The results add to concern that automakers may be unable to maintain the record sales pace of 2015. Premium brands, like their mass-market counterparts, have been benefiting from readily available credit, cheap gas and low unemployment.
SUV sales nonetheless continue to be a bright spot for Mercedes and Lexus as consumers move away from cars to the roomier and increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles. Mercedes’s GL and GLS line posted a 45 percent increase in May. Lexus reported a 3.4 percent increase for its SUVs, paced by a 10 percent gain for the redesigned RX. Sales of BMW’s sport utility vehicles fell 6 percent.
Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager, said supply constraints limited sales of its SUVs last month. Toyota is recovering from earthquakes in Japan in April that may have delayed production of 80,000 the company’s vehicles.
Mercedes expanded its U.S. luxury sales lead through the year’s first five months to more than 8,500 vehicles over Lexus. BMW remains in third, after selling the most luxury vehicles among the three for all of last year. The sales figures don’t include BMW’s Mini models or Daimler’s work trucks and Smart cars, which aren’t luxury vehicles.
Dietmar Exler, chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz USA, said that the brand’s sales are continuing at a “steady pace” this quarter. The automaker plans to introduce the S-Class Cabriolet, SL and SLC Roadsters and an all-new E-Class sedan in the coming months.