The Luxorace: Mercedes Throws In Towel

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

We have said the race for who will be the #1 luxury brand in the U.S.A. is too close to call and that it will come down to the wire. Now, those weenies of Mercedes throw in the towel and concede defeat. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be No. 3,” Ernst Lieb, president of Mercedes-Benz’s U.S., told Bloomberg. Whatever happened to “we will never surrender?” (Sorry, that was a Brit.) But look at those numbers, and join us in shouting “boohoo” at Lieb. And Mercedes. No fight left in them no more?

At the end of November, Toyota’s Lexus had sold 4,936 units more than BMW. But BMW was only 545 Bavarian cars ahead of Stuttgart’s Mercedes. Sure, the top spot for Lexus is as good as guaranteed. But Mercedes can’t pull itself together and close a gap of a few hundred cars? What’s up with them?

Instead of fighting to the last bullet, Lieb took to painting. A pretty picture.

“If you go back four years ago, Lexus was 75,000 units ahead of us and BMW was over 40,000 units ahead of us,” Lieb said. “At the end of the year with Lexus being, I don’t know, 6,000 units ahead of us, and BMW, 1,500, I think that’s a pretty good achievement.”

Jeez, he thinks BMW will even extend the lead? Defeatist yellow belly!

Luxury cars, pretty much unsalable last year, are making a strong comeback. “We are seeing more than usual increases in luxury sales,” says Jesse Toprak of

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6 of 16 comments
  • PeriSoft PeriSoft on Dec 14, 2010

    Put a thousand cars on the lots for 10k a piece. BMW problem solved.

    • SVX pearlie SVX pearlie on Dec 14, 2010

      Or, you could actually be like BMW and offer cheap leases to move the cars.

  • Steven02 Steven02 on Dec 14, 2010

    MB is making the right move here. You don't chase volume like this. If you do, you end up like GM. Grow the business the right way and you will be fine. Being #1 (by volume) isn't important. Being profitable is.

    • SVX pearlie SVX pearlie on Dec 14, 2010

      I think Lexus is putting a lot more on the hood than Benz is willing to match.

  • Blue adidas Blue adidas on Dec 14, 2010

    I don't know why this is a title that any real luxury car brand would want to win. Aside from the LS and the too-niche-to-be-relelvant LFA, Lexus can barely be considered a luxury car company. As soon as a luxury brand becomes accessible to everyone, it loses it's appeal. What luxury brands should do is to make the best cars they possibly can, and sell them at as much profit as they can. As soon as you have to rebadge a Toyota Avensis or Camry, you've lost your way completely. Just look at Cadillac in the 80s.

  • Dimwit Dimwit on Dec 14, 2010

    Don't sell Lieb short. He was on TV a lot up here when he just ran the Canadian operations and he's a very sharp cookie. Knows that there's far more at stake that some fleeting satisfaction at "winning" the sales numbers.