LUXURY: Mercedes expands lead as sales fall
U.S. sales of luxury vehicles slid 1.6 percent in April to 159,793, driven by big declines at the top three brands, with Mercedes maintaining and expanding its lead over rivals BMW and Lexus.
Mercedes-Benz and BMW, No. 1 and No. 2, both cited limited availability of key models in contributing to a 7.9 percent decrease at Mercedes-Benz and a 9.3 percent drop at BMW. No. 3 Lexus experienced an 11 percent decrease in April.
Mercedes-Benz increased its 2017 luxury sales lead, selling 26,932 vehicles in April, excluding commercial vans. Through the first four months of 2017, the brand’s luxury sales are 1 percent higher than 2016.
“While we're outpacing last year, we saw some challenges in April due to limits on availability of some of our most popular model lines (GLC, CLA and GLA) during model changeover,” Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler said in a statement. “That said, we are looking for another record year.”
The C class, GLE and E class were the brand’s volume leaders in April. Mercedes-AMG sales continue to soar with 3,130 of the performance vehicles sold in April and 11,469 sold year-to-date, a 48 percent increase.
BMW lost its year-to-date sales gain it had at the end of March. The brand is now down 1.3 percent with sales of 94,306 through April.
“For BMW, tight supply of key models had a strong effect in April,” BMW of North America CEO Bernhard Kuhnt said in a statement. “Our very popular new 5 Series is still ramping up production as the latest variants are making their way to our dealerships. Our sports activity vehicles are still in high demand with the X1 and X3 turning in good results.”
BMW noted big increases in April for the X3, up 32 percent; the X1, up 29 percent; and the 7 series, up 14 percent.
For Lexus, April continued the brand’s 2017 slide. For the first four months of the year, the brand is down 15 percent overall, the biggest year-to-date drop for all luxury competitors.
“Thanks to continued consumer interest in luxury utility vehicles and a healthy inventory, NX achieved its best April yet,” Lexus General Manager Jeff Bracken said in a statement. “Moving into May, we’re excited to launch our stunning new flagship coupe, the LC 500 and LC 500h.”
The other luxury brands with drops in April were Acura with a 13 percent decline and Lincoln with a 0.9 percent drop.
Brands that saw big increases in April included Cadillac, up 9.5 percent; Jaguar, up 1971 percent; and Volvo, up 15 percent.
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