WHAT IS `LUXURY'?
There are luxury vehicles, and there are luxury brands. Not all of the cars and trucks sold by those brands are true luxury vehicles.
In the Automotive News breakout, a luxury vehicle has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $36,000 or more.
Among the major brands, only Jaguar and Porsche derive all of their sales from vehicles with stickers of $36,000 or more. A few ultraexpensive, low-volume brands also are in that group - Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Lotus.
Elsewhere, Cadillac came closest to all-luxury with 93.9 percent of sales in the first two months of this year. Only the imported Catera fails the dollar test.
Mercedes-Benz would have been more than 90 percent if the price of the ML320 sport-utility were $105 higher. But the ML320 is $35,895, so Mercedes was 71.4 percent luxury, a bit behind Lincoln, at 75.1 percent. All Lincolns except the LS sedan are more than $36,000.
The percentages tailed off sharply after that. BMW had 52.2 percent because the 3 series, its best seller, is priced below the luxury threshold. Volvo, with a complicated mix of luxury and others, had an estimated 49.2 percent.
Two Japanese luxury brands were far down the list of luxury-vehicle sales: Infiniti at 33.5 percent and Lexus at 29.1 percent. For Infiniti, only the Q45 sedan and the QX4 sport-utility are more than $36,000.
The Lexus percentage is low because its two best sellers are under the luxury base - the ES 300 sedan and the RX 300 sport-utility. The RX 300 accounted for 47 percent of Lexus sales in the first two months of this year.
CARS OUTGAIN TRUCKS
It's much too early to proclaim 2000 the 'year of the car,' but the January-February sales results brought smiles to the faces of those diehards who insist that trucks should be used to haul cargo, not people.
Sales of both classes rose in the first two months of this year, but car sales outgained truck sales, 14.2 percent to 13.1 percent.
Car market share was up fractionally, too. Cars had 51.6 of January-February sales this year, compared with 51.3 percent in the 1999 period.
GM'S ON TOP
Who sells the most trucks?
Now there's an easy one. Ford, naturally.
Sorry, no cigar.
For the first two months of this year, the truck tally was General Motors, 393,050; Ford Motor Co., 372,373.
GM made a remarkable comeback. After two months last year, GM was 42,000 truck sales behind Ford; now, GM is nearly 21,000 ahead of Ford.
If the question were rephrased to read 'what brand sells the most trucks,' it's Ford by several miles. The two-month tally was Ford, 353,790; Chevrolet, 280,782.
But once again, credit the GM entry with great strides. Chevy now is 73,000 behind Ford; a year ago, it was 112,000 behind.