Mercedes-Benz All But Locks Down U.S. 2016 Luxury-Sales Lead

  • Daimler’s brand overtakes BMW on strength of SUV offerings
  • Company is offering range of prices without losing appeal

Mercedes-Benz sold the most luxury autos in the U.S. again in November, virtually guaranteeing that the Daimler AG brand will take the full-year title from BMW.

Sales of the Mercedes GLC sport utility vehicle more than tripled while C-Class car deliveries held steady, giving the brand a 1.1 percent increase for the month to 30,363 autos, according to a statement Thursday. Toyota Motor Corp. said Lexus slipped 1 percent to 29,050 vehicles, and BMW AG reported an 18 percent drop to 26,189 for its namesake marque.

Mercedes is offering more SUVs and in a broader price range, said Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “They have a sense of how to make them attainable without losing that sense of luxury,” which is giving Mercedes a competitive advantage, she said.

With only one month to go, Mercedes leads Lexus in the U.S. by more than 18,000 deliveries and BMW by about 28,000. A Mercedes victory for the year would recapture the crown BMW claimed in the country in 2015 and 2014, helping the Stuttgart, Germany-based nameplate regain the worldwide luxury-vehicle lead that it lost to its Munich-based rival in 2005. The two automakers have held the top spot in U.S. premium sales since 2011, when BMW ended Lexus’s 11-year reign.

Daimler shares declined 0.9 percent to 61.85 euros at 9:13 a.m. in Frankfurt. The stock has dropped 20 percent this year, valuing the manufacturer, which is also the world’s biggest maker of heavy commercial vehicles, at 66.2 billion euros ($70.6 billion). BMW fell 1.4 percent to 78.93 euros.

In the 11 months through November, Mercedes U.S. sales slipped 0.2 percent to 308,226 vehicles. Lexus deliveries declined 4.3 percent to 290,046 and BMW’s dropped 10 percent to 280,339. The tallies exclude Daimler’s Smart cars and Mercedes work vans, as well as BMW’s Mini line, because they aren’t luxury models.

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