BMW inches closer to Mercedes-Benz in March in the US sales race

Article by Anita Panait, on April 4, 2013

BMW managed to trim down the luxury car sales lead of Mercedes-Benz in the United States by posting a 13-percent increase to 27,078 vehicles in March 2013. Both brand set record sales for March. BMW’s gains in March were boosted by the hike in sales of its X3 and X5 sports utility vehicles. Mercedes, meanwhile, logged a 6.5-percent year-on-year increase in March sales to 24,646 vehicles.

For the first quarter of 2013, BMW now has sold 64,902 vehicles, reflecting a 5.4-percent increase over the same period in 2012. Mercedes, on the hand, has sold 69,187 vehicles in the first three months of 2013, reflecting a 12-percent hike over the same period in 2012. The figures mean that BMW trimmed Mercedes’ 2013 lead to 4,285 cars and SUVS.

In 2012, BMW grabbed the annual sales crown after posting a strong surge in December. The carmakers’ sales were measured by vehicle registrations as provided by researcher R.L. Polk & Co.

Toyota’s Lexus brand posted a 15-percent hike in March 2013 to 23,190, thanks to a strong performance by its ES sedan. Lexus says it posted a 16-percent gain in US luxury sales the first quarter of 2013 to 56,740 vehicles. Volkswagen AG's Audi brand posted a 14-percent sales growth in March to 13,253, marking its 27th consecutive month of record sales.

March 2012 was also Audi’s and Mercedes’ second-best month ever, next to December 2012. Audi’s growth was boosted by a 20-percent sales surge for its A4 sedan and a 39-percent jump for its Q5 SUV.  Audi also posted its best first quarter ever this year, recording a 16-percent jump in sales to 34,186 vehicles. The results, however, do not include Daimler's cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, since they aren't luxury vehicles.

The launch of the 2013 Lexus ES350 as well as the ES300h ushers in the sixth iteration of the car brand’s popular luxury car that was first introduced more than two decades ago.

Both models have the trademark Lexus spindle grille, while also sporting a new design and better handling. All of these give the entry luxury market more refinement and quality. In a bid to become more impressive, the ES models now have Lexus Hybrid Drive.

Lexus group vice president and general manager Mark Templin says that since it was first introduced in the late 1980s, the ES has set the standards for luxury sedans in terms of reliability, value, ride comfort and quality. The new ES350 and the first hybrid ES will raise those standards.

Performance

The Lexus ES has the Lexus Hybrid Drive, a first in the history of the ES. It has a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine. The four-cylinder engine gives the ES300h fuel efficiency ratings of around 40 mpg in city driving and generates a total 200 hp of power.

The low friction engine features a power management system as well as a high 12.5:1 compression ratio to make the new ES more efficient. It also comes with an electric power steering, integrated hybrid electric generator and motor and an electric water pump. It does not need accessory belts, helping it to save more fuel and be more reliable.

The Lexus ES350, on the other hand, has a V6 engine that gives 268 hp of power and peak torques of 248 lb.-ft. The 3.5-liter engine comes with Dual VVT-i and is paired with a six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission. The Electronically Controlled Transmission with Intelligence gives you better driving performance, smoother gear changes and more fuel economy. The materials used give very low friction for more efficiency. All of these result in an EPA rated fuel economy of 21 mpg for city driving, and 24 mpg combined city and highway driving.

Both models have the Drive Mode selector. The Normal mode gives you the perfect mix of efficiency and performance that you need for daily driving, while the Eco mode gives you more fuel efficiency. The Sport mode, on the other hand, gives you improved steering and powertrain responses. The ES300h has the EV mode that paves the way for shorter drives using the power of the battery pack exclusively.

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