Sales for the top three luxury auto brands fell in August, but No. 3 Lexus made up significant ground on its main German rivals by holding its sales loss to a much narrower margin.
With the effects of Hurricane Harvey crimping sales industrywide, U.S. sales of luxury vehicles fell 3.8 percent in August from the year-earlier month to 171,307 units. That was a steeper decline than the 1.8 percent drop in total U.S. light-vehicles sales last month.
Sales slid by even larger margins for the top two brands. Mercedes-Benz's sales, excluding the Sprinter and Metris commercial vehicles, slumped 11 percent to 25,373. BMW's fell 7.7 percent to 23,553.
No. 3 Lexus narrowed the gap by holding its own August decline to 0.4 percent and selling the most luxury vehicles -- 30,801 -- of any brand in the month.
Through the first eight months of 2017, Mercedes, with luxury sales of 213,242, still has a lead of 18,638 over BMW. BMW and Lexus are now much closer, with BMW hanging on to a 1,141-vehicle edge over Lexus.
"Customers took advantage of our Golden Opportunity Sales Event, and we were pleased to see Lexus sedans gain momentum for the month of August, most notably the ES," Jeff Bracken, Lexus general manager, said in a statement. "We also saw a sales increase for the NX and GX luxury utility vehicles. As the new 2018 models begin to roll in, we expect strong sales as we head toward the end of the year."