BMW nipping at Mercedes-Benz's heels

2018 Audi Q5

The U.S. luxury-brand sales race couldn't get much tighter. In August, second-place BMW pulled within a scant 58 units of No. 1 Mercedes-Benz in full-year sales. Mercedes, which won the race handily in 2017 and 2016, was off 20 percent in August, while BMW sales rose 1 percent. After the first eight months of 2017, Mercedes had nearly a 19,000-unit lead over its German rival.

"While customer demand remains high, our inventory levels are impacted by delayed availability of many of our 2019 models," Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler said in a statement. "We are currently replenishing the inventory of our popular 2019 CLA-, GLC-, E- and GLS-class this month."

Third-place Lexus was down 7.1 percent compared with August 2017 but outsold both rivals last month and lurks just 10,000 units behind Mercedes and BMW. Lexus was the U.S. luxury champ from 2000 to 2010.

And then there is Audi, which continued to close in on the Big 3 as its industry-best sales streak extended to 106 months. In August, Audi outsold Mercedes in the U.S. for the first time ever.

A hot one

The U.S. luxury-brand race looks like it will go down to the wire.
  Aug. 2018 U.S. sales Change from Aug. 2017 Jan.-Aug. 2018 U.S. sales Change from Jan.-Aug. 2017
Mercedes* 20,339 –20% 199,215 –6.6%
BMW 23,789 1% 199,157 2.30%
Lexus 28,622 –7.1% 189,025 –2.3%
Audi 20,907 5.50% 148,070 4.60%
*Excludes Sprinter and Metris sales
Audi Q5: Audi beat M-B for the first time.

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