Mercedes-Benz: Still Leading Luxury, by Volume

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
mercedes benz still leading luxury by volume

Mercedes-Benz managed to hold onto its heavyweight title in luxury sales for the third year running, at least as far as the United States is concerned. Though the domestic match was close — BMW’s 311,014 deliveries in 2018 were only a few thousand units shy of Mercedes’ 315,959. In fact, BMW volume improved 1.7 percent against 2017 while MB sales were down 6.3 percent, with most of the ground being lost in the second half of the year.

During that same time frame, Tesla sales exploded. By year’s end, the luxury EV manufacturer had 182,400 domestic deliveries under its belt — nearly four times the volume witnessed in 2017.

While Tesla could contend for top honors in a few years, the next luxury sales season will be a race between Mercedes-Benz and BMW according to Automotive News.

“Luxury will remain as hot as ever in 2019, with a slew of new product and new segment entries,” Akshay Anand, executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book, told the outlet. “The sales crown may mean a lot to automakers, but to consumers, what matters is finding the best bang for their buck in a time when most vehicles out there are rock-solid.”

Mercedes has grown quite skilled at broadening its lineup and “helping” cash-strapped customers get into workable lease options. But so has BMW, and that, no doubt, helped it close on its German rival this year. With 34,357 models shipped in December, BMW even managed to best Mercedes’ passenger vehicle sales in the final weeks of 2018.

Mercedes’ biggest hits included the GLC, C-Class and E-Class model lines. The GLC garnered 7,294 sales in December and 69,729 for the whole of 2018, making it the best year on record for the SUV. The C and E-Classes came in with 60,410 and 45,437 annual deliveries, respectively.

By comparison, most of BMW’s volume can be attributed to crossover sales — thanks to strong demand for the X3 and X5. While BMW hasn’t announced official numbers yet, the X3 had already surpassed last year’s volume of 41,000 units by October. The X5 performed less impressively but still looks on course to match 2017’s 34,641 deliveries. According to the manufacturer, the X3 and X5, combined, represented more than two out of every 5 BMW vehicles sold inside the U.S. for December. Unfortunately for the brand, that wasn’t quite enough to beat Mercedes.

“Despite the delayed availability of some of our most popular models in 2018, we achieved a solid closing of the year thanks to the excellent work of our dealers,” Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, said in a statement. “With the youngest and most comprehensive lineup in the luxury segment, we will continue to advance our position in the marketplace.”

[Images: Mercedes-Benz; BMW]

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  • Tylanner Tylanner on Jan 06, 2019

    MB is making lust-worthy stuff...anything with that new turbo straight6....yummy.

  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on Jan 06, 2019

    I looked at low-end GLC 300 4Matic. The Benz had a strong infotainment and a good ride, but the transmission programming was a little weird, interior design a bit too overdone. Interestingly enough, there's an off-road package. I ended buying an X3, because I liked how it drove. But GLC was quite compelling. Mercedes' poverty spec offerings are underwhelming. I'd rather drive a Crosstrek than GLA. Heck, I would rather drive a Renegade than GLA.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?
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