It's time to crown the midyear winner in the "true luxury" sales race, so drag out the cudgels and prepare to beat me around the ears.
Seems that no one ever likes this story except the manufacturer of the winning brand and its dealers. And for the first half of 2005, that brand is Cadillac. The General Motors flagship also finished on top in 2004 at midyear and for the full 12 months.
Every reader appears to have his or her own definition of a "true luxury" car. Readers have told me that I should pay more attention to fit and finish, to road noise, and to how the salesperson treats the customer during and after the sale.
One inspired Lexus dealer e-mailed me that Cadillac should be excluded because sales incentives take it out of the true luxury class.
Thanks for writing. I ponder all missives. For the purposes of this report, a true luxury vehicle is a car or light truck with a sticker price of $42,000 or more, including the optional equipment that the buyer usually orders.
I'd prefer to use the transaction price, but I do not have access to the transaction price of every vehicle sold in the United States. So I use the sticker, which is the one constant in the pricing jungle. During the model year the sticker on a specific vehicle may change many times, but on any given day it is the one rock for analyzing prices.
In the first half, Cadillac was the runaway winner, topping Mercedes-Benz by 15,727 true luxury sales. Each competes in the true luxury ballpark without its top seller. The Cadillac CTS V-6 units are priced below $42,000, and so are most of the Mercedes C class vehicles. BMW, Lincoln and Lexus sell most of the rest of the true luxury vehicles.
Lexus rules the regular luxury class by a commanding margin, but Automotive News estimates that Lexus draws about 60 percent of its sales from entry luxury or near luxury vehicles. All of the IS 300 and ES 300 stickers are below $42,000 and so are a good number of the stickers of the GS 300 sedans and RX 330 SUVs.
After the five leaders, sales volume in the true luxury bracket drops like a rock thrown from a cliff. For the first half of this year, Lexus, in fifth place, has an estimated 55,381 sales. No other brand has more than 23,202.
On a percentage of sales basis, Porsche is on top. Every Porsche carries a sticker of more than $42,000. Lincoln is next with 96 percent. Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Land Rover and Hummer count at least 70 percent of their deliveries in the over-$42,000 bracket.
You may e-mail John K. Teahen Jr. at