Mercedes-Benz concedes 2012 US sales race to BMW

Article by Anita Panait, on December 15, 2012

Mercedes-Benz predicts that it will lose its sales lead in the United States luxury market to fellow German carmaker BMW, as the latter is anticipated to become more aggressive in implementing its incentive strategy this December. Mercedes and BMW are in a close race to become the top-selling luxury carmaker in the US.

For the January-November period, Mercedes holds a slight lead of around 2,000 vehicles. However, Steve Cannon, head of Mercedes-Benz USA, said Thursday that the carmaker will likely lose the sales race in 2012 even if it logs record US sales of over 270,000 for the year. According to Cannon, there was no pressure from top executives in Germany to top the sales race in the US. He, however, noted that Mercedes' expanded and refreshed lineup allowed the carmaker to post its highest sales in the US ever.

Mercedes and BMW are expected to employ incentives and special financing offers to spike sales during the holiday season. However, BMW "pulls some very large numbers" in December, according to Mercedes spokeswoman Donna Boland. IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Linland told Reuters that in December, BMW tends to "slather on incentives like butter on toast," adding that BMW also markets its deals more aggressively than Mercedes.

BMW was the no. 1 luxury brand in the US in 2011, unseating 11-year top-seller Lexus brand, which was obviously harmed by vehicle shortages due to the March 2011 earthquake in Japan. For the January to November period, Mercedes has sold around 246,000 vehicles, compared to BMW’s 244,000 units

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