By on May 13, 2013

Our cross-cultural adviser, showing a little A-Class

Bloomberg relentlessly covers a fight very few care about: Who sells the most “luxury cars?” Never mind that the only way to win this is to sell more, what do they call them, “approachable” cars. Which Bloomberg’s latest dispatch from the upper class struggle aptly proves.


“Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand beat sales growth at larger German luxury-carmaking competitors Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Audi AG last month as new versions of its A- and B-Class compacts attracted buyers,” Bloomberg says.

Global deliveries by Mercedes were up 12 percent YoY to 116,566 in April, says Bloomies. Bimmer sales rose 7.5 percent to 130,598 units, Audi increased its sales 6.6 percent to 133,500. In case you are wondering how come Daimler can be king of the luxury hill if it sells fewer units than BMW and Audi: Bloomberg says their “sales growth” was better, not the overall volume. I see. Anything to talk up a race nobody is watching.

This opens great opportunities in the luxury market. A niche player, say Koenigsegg, Mitsuoka, or, God forbid, Spyker, sells two a month instead one, or none, thereby increasing their sales volume by 100 percent or more. Worth a try.

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37 Comments on “Bloomies Crowns Lagging Mercedes King Of The Luxury Pile, Thanks To A & B Class Sales...”


  • avatar
    Flybrian

    To be the luxury car king, one must sell more un-luxury cars…

    Go figure.

  • avatar

    Mercedes’ CLA has the exterior luxury of a Mercedes’ product but the interior could use a bit more refinement. Regardless, just to drive a “benz”, the CLA is gonna sell like hotcakes. Funny thing is it costs LESS than a Kia Cadenza or optioned Optima LOL. It’s hard to argue with it when it starts at $29,998. I’d take that over a Lincoln MK-whatever.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      yeah but the price you pay for that is a small car

      i like the mercedes benz c class but if you’ve been in one you know its a tight fit for guys around 6ft tall

      however what price can one pay to be in the exclusive club where your engine has a badge that says “Handcrafted By Bertel Schmidtt, Affalterbach Germany”

      its priceless isnt it?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Some of us LIKE small cars. I am 6’2 and 300+ lbs and I drive an BMW 3-series and a FIAT Abarth. The CLA is bigger inside than my BMW.

        Somehow I doubt the CLA will be cheaper than an Optima once you tick all the options boxes to make it comparably equipped though.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          I’m not your height or weight, but I agree about small cars. Other things being equal, a smaller car will handle better than a larger one, and be much more fun to drive.

          I test drove a C-Class this past winter. It seemed plenty roomy to me, and very nicely appointed. For the price, it should be!

      • 0 avatar

        My impressions of C-class were exactly the opposite: headroom is adequate, but the interior is very much low-rent. I only saw worse in a rental Camry and Malibu. BMW 3xx beats it by a mile,

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Depends on your plans for the car, if you plan to keep it for more than three years the MK Fusion will probably be discounted to around that 30K figure and may actually run properly out of warranty. You could buy that or buy/keep an out of warranty Mercedes. Kia doesn’t even enter into the equation in my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I assume it’ll do better than the old cheapo Mercedes, the C230 hatchback (called the CLC in Europe). That car was cheap with a base price around $25.5K, but if you adjust the price for inflation, the new CLA probably starts 9-10% cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Packard 120. Or more damaging, Packard 110.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Who sells the most is just for company egos. Business news should be telling us who makes the most money per car to help us make investment decisions.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Bloomberg (the mayor and the service) has been called a lot of things, but I don’t think “Bloomies” is one of them. Actually, people used to call Bloomingdale’s department store that, though I’m not sure whether they still do. Both examples are a bit cloying, but worse here is the absence of an apostrophe. Is that just poetic license?

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    As a Mercedes-Benz salesperson I really don’t want us chasing the luxury sales crown, especially if it comes at the expense of gross. My dealership sold the most units in Florida last month, and it is nice to do that once, but of course our GM wants it every month. I am sure that it brings the dealership some impressive volume bonuses but as a salesperson it galls me to sell a $70,000 automobile for a mini. It takes hours to properly present a Benz, particularly to a customer new to the brand, then we negotiate away our profit, send them to F&I where they take most of it back, then another hour for delivery….and God help you if your CSI surveys average less than 950 out of 1000 because then you lose your volume bonus.

    I make a good living, I take great care of my customers, but it does get harder every year….

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I share your concern, but I think with the advent of things like the CLA, the writing’s on the wall. Daimler would be wise to watch themselves on chasing volume lest they become Cadillac of the early 70s and later, Cadillac of the 80s.

      • 0 avatar
        cdnsfan27

        The CLA may actually be a good thing as we are dealing with an aging customer base….the CLA will hopefully bring us younger customers. The refresh of the E is great and we are very much looking forward to the new S in all it’s variants. The C is a year away from a remodel and then we will have a great line up.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I can’t speak for Mercedes intentions or strategy, but the CLA strikes me as a cheaper volume model intended for cheap leases similar to that little hatch they put out ten years ago… how cheap I cannot say. Maybe this is wise to bring youth in, I’m not in marketing.

          If C, E, and S are supposed to be panzerwagons, then where does that leave CLA exactly? If I plunk down 80K on a E550, how do I feel when I see my cleaning lady/au pair/gardener driving a “Mercedes” CLA?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Give me a break. Working class people will still not be able to afford the CLA. It will still be a $35-40K car once the typical options are added on. Your cleaning lady, au pair, and/or gardener will be lucky to be able to afford a new Versa in these times.

            CLAs will be bought/leased by the same professional types who buy/lease C-class and 3-series, just maybe 4-5yrs sooner in their careers.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You may have a point on options packages, those hadn’t occurred to me. Although one might think a standard “Mercedes” would already have some decent options, maybe only lacking monster truck wheels and a real engine.

            I disagree on the “working folks”, Acura recently offered their Cimmaron for $260/mo which honestly had some decent options standard (inc moonroof) you only lost leather/heated seats, nav, and something else trivial by leasing the base model. If Mercedes offered say a $350 lease, no money or say $2K down, your worker bees could be all over it. If your a married 50yo maid @ 30K salary and need wheels, you might say to yourself “I could have that Benz” for a tiny bit of savings and $350/month, just to have the experience before you get too old.
            Young people might try it too for the same reasoning, I can picture it now “whats $350/mo”. Live at home and work at the golden arches, you could swing this at that price point.

            The irony here is young professionals in their 5-7th year of career (so, me) might shy away from this because the maid and Mickey Dees people are pimping it. Most people I know aspire for Lexus, but usually settle for well equipped Subaru, occasionally Honda, and for the “sports” crowd its pony car or BMW. I personally know no one under 40 with a Mercedes.

            Actually here’s a free marketing snapshot, every person here is 5+ years in their career and makes somewhere between 60K and 85K, my boss topping out near six figures:

            Mike B: ’11 Cadillac CTS Coupe, cherry ’02 Pontiac Trans Am (formerly ’04 Grand Prix)
            Brian: ’12 Ford Escape, cherry ’07 Ford Mustang GT
            Mike S: ’11 F150 Crew Cab, ’98 Honda Civic 5spd
            Joe: ’12 Nissan Altima, ’10 Camaro SS (formerly ’00 Maxima 5 spd)
            Joe’s fiancee: ’11 Honda Fit
            Aaron: ’12 Subaru 5 door (formerly 04 Civic)
            Aaron’s g/f: ’13 Subaru 5 door (formerly 06? CR-V)
            Damien: ’06 BMW 330 Xdrive (bought CPO)
            Rich: ’03 Honda Accord
            Tom: ’09 Pontiac G8 V6, ’09 Hummer H2
            Brian D: ’13 Acura TL (formerly ’03 Nissan 350Z)
            Anthony: ’11 Subaru Legacy (formerly ’00 Olds Alero)
            My boss: ’11 BMW 330 X drive twin turbo (“M package” from what I was told)
            Me: ’08 Pontiac Grand Prix, ’98 Saturn SL, ’93 Volvo 240

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            It’s a German car. The entry price is advertising fodder only. The only way you could ever buy one at that price is to order it, and even then you probably wouldn’t like it much. My VERY lightly optioned relatively poverty-spec 3-series still has over $5K in options on it. And I got it the year they made leather free on the wagon.

            Given that Mercedes already advertises $299/mo leases on the C-class on occasion, I would expect the CLA to be at least a little cheaper. Or at least a smaller up-front payment.

            Which is still FAR out of the range of what pretty much anyone making $35K a year can realistically afford. Will some few do it? Sure, but not very many. I doubt they sell very many to folks making less than $50-60K. Your maid will be paying for it with hubbies money.

            The whole “$30K millionaire” meme is cute, but realistically those folks are making more like $50K a year.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            I know someone whose cleaning lady drove a 3-Series, but said cleaning lady owned the business and was effectively an employee within the business herself.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I thought something similar about the ILX, until I saw the stripper version. If it offered something better than a lawnmower engine under the hood, I may have pulled the trigger, you only have to give up 4 things, heated seats being the only one I wanted and would just live without.

            I’ve never bought a new German car so I can’t really understand where your coming from exactly on paying for individual options. Do you recall the extra options you added to your wagon that were not standard?

            I see your argument but at least in these parts I don’t see it making much headway with the salary range you gave and I present my list above as evidence. These CLAs will be leased out to (1) spoiled hs/college kids by parents (2) middle aged or older people who could never afford the Mercedes experience (3) rental fleets who carry C300s and 3 Series as the highest trim category, (4) Some of the 30/40K millionaire crowd and (5) finally its intended niche, successful Gen X/Y. When they go out used, it will be the 30K meme who snaps them up and further devalue the new CLA’s buyers four to five years down the road.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @ 28-Cars-Later

            But of course:
            Metallic Paint – $550
            Cold Weather Pkg – $900
            Butt heat
            Headlight washers
            Skibag

            Premium Pkg – $1900
            Pwr Seats
            Lumbar support
            Auto-dimming mirrors
            BMW Assist/Bluetooth
            Mirror with compass and Homelink

            Comfort Access keyless entry/start – $500
            Roof Rails – $100
            H/K sound system – $875
            Sat Radio – $375

            My car include the free “Value Package” that they threw in on the 328is for a couple years. That was leather, 17″ wheels and the ipod controller. That would have been another $2500 or so.

            The Germans have always done it this way, they don’t do “trim levels” like the Japanese do. You PAY for the toys. Sometimes you can get a discount by getting options in a package – I wanted the auto-dimming mirrors, Homeling and Bluetooth, but did not particularly want the power seats. But the package was only a couple hundred more than that stand-alone options, and you couldn’t get the lumbar support otherwise. So it made sense to get the package.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            “My VERY lightly optioned relatively poverty-spec 3-series”

            That doesn’t seem poverty-spec, FWIW. That’s probably a typical set of options on A4s and 3-Series that don’t have satnav. Not sure about C-Class. In fact, you’re probably a leg up on the typical car by having Comfort Access + upgraded H/K stereo.

            Depending on what year, and besides satnav, you’d only really be missing things like HIDs, parking sensors, rear sunshade, and either M-Sport or Sport Package (you can get one or the other, not both, right?). I believe if you get M-Sport, you can’t get heated seats.

            Yours is a 2011 if I remember, so you also might be missing adaptive cruise control.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            No HIDs, Automatic, AWD, NAV/iDrive, Sport or Msport (Msport is a superset of Sport), adaptive cruise, parking sensors, and a number of other things that escape me. If you tick ALL the boxes you could make a $60K+ 328i wagon back in ’11.

            Around here you will simply not find one on the dealer’s lot without automatic, AWD, and iDrive. Plus the premium pack and cold weather pack. Even the bigger dealers in MA only stock them this way for the most part. Of course, BMW makes it VERY easy to order whatever you want, with Euro Delivery as a money saving bonus.

            I guess the good speakers and comfort access DO make my car one step above true poverty spec – we’ll call it “working class”. Note that my car would have been $1250 more with the autotragic, and several thousand more with AWD. HIDs were another $1200, iDrive NAV something like $2500, and most of THOSE cars have the BMW apps option too for another several hundred. Most of the cars on the lot were right around $50K +/-. Sedans, of course, the wagon is another couple grand more but they don’t usually stock them at all.

            I lucked out in that I ordered my car three days before BMW made the automatic a “free” option, and jacked the base price by a grand. Wankers. Luckily I knew that was coming.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “It takes hours to properly present a Benz, particularly to a customer new to the brand”

      How do you define “properly present[ing] a Benz”?

      • 0 avatar
        mpresley

        Maybe it’s like the Lexus dealer here in town. Before you can even look at the car, you have to “take the dealership tour.” First go by the short order snack bar, then run down the the mom’s lounge with changing table and kiddie play area, then move on to the business lounge featuring PCs, Wall Street Journals, and free wi-fi for BYOD road warriors. Next, move on to the Lexus souvenir shop, the parts department, and finally a sneak peak at the service bays. All this takes about a half an hour to 45 minutes, all the time some smarmy junior sales toady is fattening you up with soda pop, bottled water and some snacks.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Q1 sales, as reported today by CNN Money:

    Tesla Model S: 4750
    Mercedes S-Class: 3077
    BMW 7-series: 2388
    Audi A8: 1462

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Those are pretty close to the numbers I reported the other day for prior years:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/the-mortal-sins-of-the-auto-business-new-car-brands/#comment-2048039

      Audi A8 is still around 6000.
      BMW 7-Series is below 10K, so dropping below what it has been.
      S-Class is about 12K, which is about right.

      The Tesla Model S Performance probably splits the price difference between the A8 and the S-Class base prices, so it’s probably around the price of the 7-Series.

      The non-Performance models are more like the price of a very well-loaded A6/5-Series/E-Class, so I’m not sure if A8/7-Series/S-Class is the best comparison or not.

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    CLA –> FWD , “korean design” .. hipster-mobile .. not Mercedes…

  • avatar
    bd2

    The overall luxury sales crown is less impressive than the no. of vehicles a luxury auto-automakers sells at the higher end of the market (say $50k and up).

    Was Lexus padding its sales figures with the ES and RX really that impressive when GS sales were dismal?

    MB still commands the higher end of the market with the E Class, S Class and its lineup of larger CUVs, so that is more impressive than having the overall sales crown.


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