After winning two straight annual luxury sales crowns, Mercedes-Benz USA is kicking off 2018 with a clear-cut lead in the U.S. luxury market despite a small skid in January.
The segment's other top brands mirrored last year's annual results, with BMW and Lexus finishing in the second and third spots.
Mercedes' U.S. sales fell 0.9 percent in January to 25,307 vehicles, excluding the brand's commercial van sales. Mercedes called out the GLC compact crossover and the flagship S class for helping the brand in January.
The GLC "is doing extremely well with customers," Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler told Automotive News last month. "We were outsold a couple of times last year, so we increased supply to the dealers drastically."
BMW rode the strength of a 5 percent jump in volume to the No. 2 luxury spot, selling 19,016 vehicles. It was helped by gains for the redesigned X3 compact crossover and 5-series sedan.
Executives are optimistic the brand can achieve a slight increase in U.S. sales in 2018, BMW of North America CEO Bernhard Kuhnt said in a January interview.
"Why am I positive about it?" Kuhnt said. "We are going to launch in March the X2. We have a full year of X3. We have a full year of the 5 series, which we didn't have last year. And we will change to other X models.
Lexus' U.S. deliveries soared 15 percent for the month to come in at No. 3 with 17,914 vehicles. The strength of the NX compact crossover and the new three-row RXL helped it make up ground on what had been a terrible start to 2017. The brand's U.S. sales dropped by more than 25 percent in January 2017.
Total U.S. luxury sales rose 1.8 percent in January to 133,642 vehicles. Rounding out the segment's top five were Audi, with sales of 14,511 vehicles, up 9.9 percent, and Infiniti, with deliveries of 10,635 vehicles, down 8 percent.
Other luxury brands with gains for the month were Land Rover, Volvo and Porsche. The biggest decline among came from Lincoln, whose sales dropped 27 percent in January.