By on October 23, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-ClassMercedes-Benz USA has already sold more copies of the all-conquering S-Class in 2014 than in the full calendar years of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. By the end of October, Mercedes-Benz USA’s S-Class sales total will be in excess of 2008’s total, as well.

Not since 2007 have S-Class sales been this strong. Mercedes-Benz sold 30,886 S-Class sedans in the United States in 2006 and 26,081 in 2007 after averaging little more than 20,000 annual U.S. sales between 2002 and 2005.

(Mercedes-Benz’s decision to throw the CL-Class coupe nameplate under the S-Class’s banner doesn’t mean much in this historical context, as the CL-Class has always operated in a narrow niche in the market. It accounted for 4% of all S/CL sales in 2006 and 3% last year. The coupe only accounts for 2% of the currently inventoried S-Classes.)

While this category has traditionally belonged to the S-Class, so much so that any new entry is considered as much an S-Class fighter as it is a flagship luxury sedan in its own right, there have been times in the recent past when alternatives have led the way. Going back as far as 2002, both the BMW 7-Series and even better-selling (and more affordable) Lexus LS outsold the S-Class. (They both did so again in 2005.) In fact, the LS outsold the S-Class in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

The S-Class has beaten off all challenges from top-level, premium brand sedans in each of the last four years, however, and through the first three-quarters of 2014 it has sold more than twice as often as any direct rival.

S-Class sales have risen 122% to 16,915 units so far this year. BMW 7-Series sales are down 27% to 6264 units, the Lexus LS is down 22% to 5904, the Audi A8 is down 12% to 4060, and the Jaguar XJ is down 15% to 3468.

It’s estimated that Tesla has sold around 12,000 copies of the Model S in the United States during the first three-quarters of 2014. BMW’s 6-Series range, now available as a four-door, is 371 sales ahead of the 7-Series. The Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS sit in between the E-Class/5-Series/A6 and S-Class/7-Series/A8 lineups. Their sales are up 6% to 6386 and up 4% to 6149, respectively.

In other words, the S-Class doesn’t simply outsell its rivals, it roundly trounces them.

It helps to be the newest, it helps to be the progenitor, and it helps to offer a broader lineup of available sedans. S-Class volume has now increased in twelve consecutive months.

Through three-quarters, BMW USA has outsold Mercedes-Benz USA (excluding Sprinter) by 3380 units. Yet while BMW generates 2.6% of its volume with the 7-Series (Lexus is at 2.7% with the LS; Audi ‘s at 3.1% with A8; JLR’s at 6.9% with Jaguar XJ), Mercedes-Benz produces 7.3% of its volume with the S-Class.

That figure has grown from 3.5% last year, but it’s down from 10.3% in 2007, the last time S-Class sales were this high, before the brand produced 12.9% of its volume with vehicles like the CLA and GLA, as Mercedes-Benz did in September.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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57 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class Is Selling Like It’s 2007...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Makes sense, the economy is very good to those who would buy this car, and its closest competitor, the BMW 7 series, is a bit lackluster.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The current 7 looks a little dated to my eyes (as well as feeling it will not age particularly well), and is not especially balanced. There’s just too much hood.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s also rather blocky-looking, perhaps a direct result of the Rolls-Royce Ghost being on that same platform. Then again, the 5 and 6-Series’ are on a shorter version of that platform and they aren’t quite as blocky. That said, I think it has aged a lot better than the Bangle-designed E65 7-Series, which, despite its 2006 LCI…still looked like crap throughout the entirety of its production run…

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          As I like to say to those in the BMW Club who say that the Bangled 5s and 7s set sales records – “imagine how many they would have sold if they had been good looking?”.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            2000 740iL FTW!

          • 0 avatar
            ellomdian

            As I say to people who criticize Flame Surfacing –

            “Look how many people immediately copied it.”

            Don’t get me wrong, I loved my e38’s. They are easily one of the best styled sedans of the last 20 years. But an evolution of the e38 would have made Audi’s early 00’s styling look radical. There have to be clear visual cues in styling to indicate that you have the ‘new’ car (one of the problems with the mid F01/02 refresh was that it wasn’t visually distinctive enough to justify people cutting leases short.)

    • 0 avatar
      swester

      It’s remarkable how stunningly good-looking the 2000 740i sport still is.

      It’s also remarkable how utterly unremarkable all of the subsequent models have been. It’s hard to even distinguish them apart. Sad to see such an iconic vehicle lose its luster.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Neither the current or previous S Class are that great looking either but the S Class has always been the epitome of the mainstream, luxury flagship segment and MB totally upped the ante when it came to opulence and luxurious amenities with the current S Class.

      As for the LS, it is cheaper than the rest of the segment and a good bit cheaper than the S Class.

      A loaded BMW Gran Coupe is more expensive than a loaded, non-hybrid LS.

      And speaking of the LS, it has more resemblance to the old-time 7 Series greenhouse than does the current 7er.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    MB is still the standard. I think it also helps that they have maintained some design distance between the C/E/S… the other German brands, BMW in particular, has gone too far with the “same sausage different lengths” design language to the point that I still confuse their 3 sedans for each other. A 3 looks an awful lot like a 5. And a 5 looks an awful lot like a SWB 7. With the 3 growing as it has there’s just less separation between the ranges.

    The rapid sales decline of the rest of the F-segment cars should serve as a loud warning to anyone looking to jump into this fray. At the end of the day there are just less people who want to spend $100K on some dowdy old man sedan, and the few that do generally dont’ want to settle for anything less than the best… which is the S-Class.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “..on some dowdy old man sedan…”

      Every time my wife sees a giant sedan like an S class she says it must be an old man driving it. I like the Panamera for this money but really I’d just go a bit smaller and more engaging to drive. An M3 fits the bill nicely.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        She’s right the average age of an S-Class buyer is 61. Takes a long time to make the kind of money it takes to buy one

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Well I think people associate big sedans with old times. It’s pretty boring standard shape/body style that really was in its hey day in the 60s. Now there are hatchbacks, SUVs, coupes etc etc. Big sedans make a statement that kind of says “Im old and clinging to the past”

    • 0 avatar

      “I think it also helps that they have maintained some design distance between the C/E/S…”

      That’s actually going to diminish. I don’t know if you’ve seen the new C-Class, but it is very much a shrunken S-Class design-wise. Spy shots of the next E-Class have revealed the same tactic is in order for that car.

      *However*, the S-Class feels functionally superior to all of Mercedes-Benz’ other products. The 7-Series and A8, on the other hand, pull all of their interfaces and interior design aspects from the corporate kit, and are less special for it. In a 7-Series, you’ll see the same IP, iDrive interface, Steptronic gear selector and interior panel shapes as in the 5-Series and the 3-Series. Jaguar, OTOH, is a niche brand.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Yea, it does appear that MB is going for a “one sausage different lengths” language for this iteration, which is a shame. To their credit though, this is the first design language they’ve had in a long time that could be applied to all cars, and look good. The new C looks great, as does the new S. New E should be good too, but they will have BMW’s problem for sure without some attempts to separate the lines visually.

        And yea, this S looks to be the bees knees interior wise. You are spot on about BMWs… it goes beyond the skin; since the E38/E39 the 7 has pretty much been a LWB 5 series. They deviated a bit visually with the E60/E65, and both cars were better for it, but it’s back to boring again.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Correct – the new C Class has an interior that is in certain ways better than the current E Class.

        The new E Class will correct that.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Benz is still the standard at the TOP of the line. I don’t think anyone even comes close when it comes to the S-class.

      But the E and C-class? Unless we’re talking about the AMG versions, I find it questionable to think of them as class-leading. Personally, I’d take a Caddy CTS V-Sport over an E class, and a BMW 3-series (or an Infiniti Q50, if they fix the steering) over the C-class.

      And don’t get me started on the Verano…I mean CLA.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      It’s good to know when I lease my CLA between gigs at the car wash and McDonalds, I’m really owning a little piece of the S-Class and it’s storied pedigree of innovation and engineering.

      /sarcasm

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The S-Class just has no rivals, after the S next stop Bentley/Rolls Royce

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Depends on what you want. I’d rather have a Panamera over the S, 7, XJ, A8 and CT6 (?). It’s all about what floats your boat and I’d prefer a hydrofoil to a cabin cruiser.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I agree, but I was thinking $100K luxury sedan segment. It’s a pretty small segment

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The Panamera really competes against the 6 Series GC and the CLS – the sportier “4-door coupes” and not the traditional, flagship sedan.

        Which is why the new Infiniti flagship which is slated to go after the Panamera eschews the box, comfort mode for a sportier ride and the 4-door coupe form.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think I’d have to go off the wall (assuming I don’t need AWD) and go with the Quattroporte. I prefer to exude unique/exotic.

      And if I need AWD, then I go A8.

    • 0 avatar
      theupperonepercent

      I would argue that the interiors of the Bentley and Rolls Royce are bland compared to the W222. The Bentley and Rolls Royce are more about being seen-in-them rather than how you actually feel in them.

      My father has a Continental GT 2013 and I find it boring compared to the W222.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, but sit in a Mulsanne and see if you still feel the same way. However “traditional” it is, it’s absolutely exquisitely-crafted.

        • 0 avatar
          theupperonepercent

          The Mulsanne isn’t as visually exciting as an S550 W222 with the all-White interior.

          In fact, the C-Class W205 with the same interior options is just as exciting at half the price.

          My only problem with either car is that the Twin Turbo engines aren’t as quiet as the naturally aspirated V6 or V8 was.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Well, for three times the price of an S-class, the Mulsanne definitely SHOULD feel exquisitely crafted!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    We’re reverting to the past again! My 00 A8L was that exact color, and had very similar wheels as well.

    The new S does have presence, I always notice them in traffic. The older version didn’t cut it with me – the style always looked like a couple different cars smashed together, and I hated the big bulging circular wheel arches. Those are totally gone now.

  • avatar
    theupperonepercent

    The W222 really doesn’t have many more technological *WOW* features than the W221.

    The W221 offered heated/cooled/massage seats, an intuitive COMAND interface, and plenty of automatic features.

    But what truly makes it stand out is the ridiculously luxurious materials and the amount of legroom and headroom.

    Has anyone seen the car with all-White leather and carpets in person?

    It’s like being in a hotel on Park Avenue.

    The BMW interior is bland and boring.
    The Audi A8 interior is boring.
    Even the Rolls Royce Ghost interior is boring.

    The W222 is what the Maybach should have been.

    • 0 avatar
      okqeuro

      I’d argue the opposite. W222 offers steering assist – the car literally accelerates, brakes, steers itself.

      Magic Body Control (funniest name for a feature since Mini’s Openometer) erases speed bumps.

      There’s more, but W221 isn’t in the same technological league as W222 IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      No new Bells and Whistles, other than Magic Ride Control, the option to effectively drive itself, and a significantly improved (see: Usable) COMAND setup. Combined with the restyle and the new interior finishes, the W222 easily sets the new bar in Executive Sedan-world.

      While it’s a high watermark to be sure, it’s running over the segment 1. Because it’s a small segment, and 2. Because the competition are on 6+ year old platforms. Get the D5 A8 or the G11 7’s (Both due to drop next year as ’16 Models) on the market, and we will be able to see what this fight actually looks like.

      And if you are going to drag Rolls, Bentley, or Maybach into this… the point of buying one of those is that you get to choose EVERYTHING. Mercedes may have 19 colors of carpets that you can order in the W222, but Rolls has 19 different KINDS of carpeting. It’s a completely different segment, market, and experience.

      • 0 avatar
        theupperonepercent

        I would argue that:

        #1 The platform in this car doesn’t matter.

        If you took the W221 and upgraded the interior with W222 materials, most drivers/riders wouldn’t know the difference.

        The W221 rode ridiculously soft over bad roads and was astonishingly quiet while shifting gears. Now – it’s louder because of the turbocharged V8.

        #2 Magic ride Control doesn’t come with the car standard. The livery companies are not ordering it unless it comes equipped that way.

        The average buyer isn’t springing for it. The average S-class buyer drops $10,000 in options (according to Mercedes Benz) and that’s for comfort features typically – or appearance packages.

        I will agree that rolls Royce is a completely different segment, but I’ve riden in them and saw nothing spectacular. The W222 looks more cutting edge while the RR looks more traditional. It’s an acquired taste that older rich people would love. Nothing else has an upright grill anymore.

        The option to “drive itself” is nothing more than a 10 – 20 second steering assistance that demands that you take control back.

        Have you ever driven these cars?

        The S550 is a long way from autonomy on anything other than the Autobahn – under tightly controlled situations

        • 0 avatar
          ellomdian

          “The W222 looks more cutting edge while the RR looks more traditional. It’s an acquired taste that older rich people would love.”

          Is it possible for anyone older than 30 to think that the 7-series Roller is a ‘traditional’ looking car? Have YOU ever ridden in one before the BMW ownership?

          If you’re talking about livery options, then of course MRC isn’t a popular option – it’s a driver aid, not a comfort option.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    …and judging by all of them I see sitting in traffic over the 14th street bridge going into VA, or driving up Reservoir Road going into MD, every single one of them have made their way to our Nation’s capitol.

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    They sell, yes, but nowhere near what the W126 had (almost a million over it’s 12 year production cycle). That was a perfect automobile.

    Should call the coupe 500SEC or something. Love the old nomenclature over the new one. C/L class, what’s that?

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    They’re trying to push them all out the door before the CT6 takes over the segment…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    All I can say is…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qev-i9-VKlY

    Best uber-sedan on the market, and has been for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      Other than, you know, those times when it was unreliable shit with terrible electronics and poor build quality.

      MB has had their own Dark Days in the Executive Sedan world. That’s a big part of why the W222 is so impressive.

  • avatar
    stuki

    It is like 2007, for those at the receiving end of the looting.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Meh.

    I’ve seen bear droppings with more distinctive lines.

    Daimler could at least put some serious effort into putting some proper aesthetics into the exterior design of the S.

    Look at the headlamps and taillights, ffs.

  • avatar
    henkdevries

    Thats a lot of numbers!
    If I’m not mistaken graphs and tables are invented to make numbers more readable.

    Can you give it a try?

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