Lexus, with summer deals, grabs monthly luxury crown over Mercedes, BMW

DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Lexus scored its first monthly win this year in U.S. luxury-vehicle deliveries, riding an annual summer sales push and the new NX crossover past German rivals.

Lexus reported a July increase of 9.1 percent from a year earlier to 29,816. Mercedes-Benz posted a 1.2 percent gain to 27,526, and the BMW brand said Monday that sales climbed 2.1 percent to 26,970.

The Toyota Motor Corp. brand lured consumers with offers like a $329-a-month lease on the $38,000 ES sedan, as the summer sale helped it to a July win for a second straight year. Low financing rates and a strong used-car market have helped fuel U.S. luxury sales, which are outpacing industrywide gains.

“You don’t want to train customers to depend on the discount, but this clears out their lots of the older models,” Kevin Tynan, an auto analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said of Lexus’s strategy. “Then, right when you have customers looking for the great deals they just missed, it’s a new model year.”

Luxury brands are leading the way as the auto industry flirts with sales levels not seen in at least a decade. More affordable entry-level models such as Munich-based BMW’s $32,950 3 Series, Mercedes’s $31,500 CLA-Class and the $34,480 Lexus NX are broadening the brands’ appeal to younger buyers.

For the year, Lexus deliveries have climbed 14 percent to 188,664. BMW holds the sales lead through July with a 6.4 percent advance to 195,593. That’s 3,097 more than Daimler AG’s Mercedes, which has gained 7.7 percent to 192,496.

‘Strong demand’

“We continue to see strong demand for luxury utility vehicles,” Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president, said in a statement. The NX, which wasn’t available a year earlier, accounted for 4,337 deliveries last month. The GX sport utility vehicle surged 20 percent to 2,337.

For July, BMW was led by increases of 49 percent for the X3 SUV and the larger X5, which more than doubled. Sales of Mercedes’s C-Class car rose 12 percent and the new GLA small SUV added 2,040 deliveries. The results exclude Daimler’s Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW AG’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles.

Sales for Volkswagen AG’s Audi soared 21 percent to a July record 17,654 and the brand’s fourth-best month since entering the U.S. in 1970. The monthly increase, Audi’s 55th in a row, included 46 percent for the entry-level A3 and 47 percent for the Q5 SUV. For the year, Audi is up 12 percent to 111,269.

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