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Bmw Tops U.S. Luxury Market By The Skin Of Its Teeth

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On: Tue, May 17, 2011 at 8:14AM | By: Chris Weiss

Bmw Tops U.S. Luxury Market By The Skin Of Its Teeth

Usually when we talk about auto sales, we're working in thousands. But in the case of the luxury auto market, BMW sits on top by less than 30 individual cars sold. The German automaker managed to narrowly defeat its countrymate Mercedes-Benz by a margin of just 29 cars to become the leading luxury automaker in the U.S. so far this year.

BMW sold 18,801 models in April while Mercedes lagged closely behind with 18,042 sales. That pushed the 2011 sales totals to 71,417 BMW and 71,388 Mercedes. Year-to-year sales were up 2.3 percent for Mercedes in April and 8.9 percent for BMW.

While the tight race between the two pillars of the German luxury auto market was one interesting plot, the displacement of Lexus as the #1 luxury company in the U.S. was another. Lexus has led the U.S. luxury market for 11 years, and it looks like 2011 will be the year it falls. While Lexus was close behind Mercedes in terms of its 17,576 April sales, it's slipped well behind both BMW and Mercedes in terms of year-to-date sales: 64,932.

While both German brands experienced increased sales when compared with April 2010, Lexus' sales slipped by 4.3 percent.

Toyota Motor Corp., Lexus' parent company, blames sliding sales on production and delivery problems stemming from March's earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor incidents, which have slowed much of the Japanese auto industry. While those events certainly didn't help, Lexus had been sliding well before they happened. The highly public recall issues that Toyota/Lexus went through last year likely took a long-lasting toll on at least some consumers' attitudes toward Toyota and Lexus vehicles, causing them to migrate elsewhere.

Analysts are predicting a tight sales race throughout the rest of 2011, with Mercedes banking on its new E-Class to drive its effort and BMW riding the X3 and 5-Series.


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