Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus brand outsold luxury rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the latest quarter in the U.S. as inventory shortages triggered by the pandemic hampered the German brands.
Lexus, which hasn’t won the annual U.S. luxury sales race in a decade, grew 2 percent in the third quarter to 75,285 vehicles. Deliveries at Mercedes declined 9.4 percent to 69,631 units, and BMW suffered a 16 percent decline to 69,570. Mercedes is still leading the other two brands year-to-date by a wide margin.
Lexus has weathered the pandemic better than its German rivals, with the brand’s best-selling RX crossover seeing strong demand in the quarter. Both Mercedes and BMW have been hamstrung by tight inventory as the pandemic idled plants in Europe and the U.S. for weeks. Lexus saw a 31 percent jump in September alone, led by its RX, NX crossover and ES sedan. That pared declines this year to 13 percent.
“BMW used sales have been very strong -- I think it’s eating the new car demand because of the inventory shortage,” said Marc Cohen, vice president at Priority 1 Automotive Group in Maryland, which operates two BMW stores.
Audi’s U.S. deliveries plunged 22 percent so far in 2020, following a 16 percent drop from July to September. Its top-selling Q5 crossover suffered a 34 percent decline in the quarter.