Lexus Outsells Mercedes, BMW in February on U.S. Love for SUVs

  • Toyota brand posts 0.4% gain as German rivals report declines
  • Mercedes trimmed incentive spending 24%, JPMorgan analyst says

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus edged into the monthly lead in U.S. luxury-vehicle sales, boosted by American consumers’ love for sport utility vehicles.

Deliveries rose 0.4 percent from a year earlier to 23,090 for Lexus while sliding 2.9 percent to 22,941 for Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and declining 11 percent to 22,498 for BMW AG’s namesake brand. The Toyota division reported an 18 percent increase for its four SUV models.

“As leaders in luxury crossover vehicles, it’s no surprise to us that our SUV lineup continues to propel our sales performance,” Jeff Bracken, group vice president and general manager for Lexus, said Tuesday in a statement. The brand’s car deliveries fell 16 percent.

The largest luxury brands lagged behind in what was a strong February for the auto industry in the U.S., where vehicle sales have been a bright spot in an economy that has slowed of late. Buyers of luxury models may have been spooked as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell for a third straight month in February, its longest losing streak since 2011. 

BMW’s 7.1 percent gain for its SUVs wasn’t enough to overcome a 19 percent decline for its cars. Ludwig Willisch, chief executive officer of BMW North America, said in a statement that the spring travel season probably will boost sales for the German brand.

The decline in Mercedes deliveries might have been a byproduct of its pricing discipline last month. The brand reduced incentive spending by 24 percent, Ryan Brinkman, an automotive analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said in a note last week. 

Volkswagen AG’s Audi managed another U.S. monthly sales record in February, extending its streak to 62 months, according to a statement. Audi deliveries rose 2.3 percent to 11,718, including a 63 percent jump for the Q7 SUV.

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