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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