BMW inches closer to Mercedes-Benz over US luxury sales crown

Article by Anita Panait, on July 4, 2013

The BMW brand posted a 25-percent surge in sales in the United States in June 2013 to 27,074, boosted by 63-percent increase in deliveries of its 3-series range in the country. BMW's record sales in June allowed the brand to narrow the premium-vehicle lead of fellow German carmaker and rival Mercedes-Benz, which posted a 9.8-percent hike in June sales to 24,415 units.

Toyota's Lexus premium brand logged a 6.7-percent gain in the month to 21,355. In the first half of 2013, BMW posted an 11-percent growth in luxury sales to 140,431 units while Mercedes logged a 10-percent gain in the period to 141,950 luxury vehicles.

This effectively means that BMW managed to trim Mercedes' lead from 4,178 vehicles by end of May to 1,519 units by end of June 2013. The figures don't include Daimler's cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, since they are not considered as luxury vehicles. Lexus posted a 9.5-percent gain in sales in the first six months of 2013 to 118,415 vehicles.

Alec Gutierrez, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book, remarked to Bloomberg that premium carmakers are benefiting from wider lineups with more affordable prices, noting that it is part of a "prevailing trend of near-luxury sales overall." Gutierrez remarked that one of the significant drivers for BMW's surges in sales in June were the available lease offers on 3 series. He said that there were promotions from the low- to mid-$300s a month, while the 335 can be availed for just $400 a month.

BMW sold 10,957of its best-selling 3 series in June 2013, partly thanks to the new BMW 320i that has a starting price of $32,550. Mercedes, meanwhile, posted significant gains for its C-class sedan (17 percent to 7,639 units) and for its GLK-class sports utility vehicle (37 percent to 2,806 units). Lexus, on the other hand, saw sales of its ES sedan jump 50 percent in June 2013.

Introduced more than two decades ago, the ES has been the most popular luxury sedan to come from Lexus. With the launch of the 2013 ES350 and the 2013 ES300h, this will be the sixth generation of this range. The trademarked spindle grille is still there but the design is both new and progressive with the handling improved. This new release of the ES is expected to deliver to the entry luxury segment quality and refinement to new heights.

Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Mark Templin shared that after the ES was introduced in 1989, it set new standards to the luxury sedan as it relates to ride comfort, reliability, quality, and of course, value. Both the ES350 and the first ES with a hybrid powertrain are projected to once again raise such standards. Indeed, longtime customers, as well as new ones, are sure to love the ES and the Lexus Hybrid Drive.

Considered as a first for the ES, the Lexus Hybrid Drive in the ES300h will have the Atkinson four-cylinder 2.5-liter cycle engine. Fuel economy with this hybrid drive is EPA-rated 40 mpg for the city, 39 mpg for highway, and 39 mpg combined.

Total output of this system is 200 hp. Helping increase the engine’s overall efficiency is the high 12.5:1 compression ratio. That said, the advanced power management system of this low friction engine helps as well. Despite having a hybrid electric motor/generation integrated to it, an electric power steering, and electric water pump, the engine does not need any accessory belts. It is this beltless design that improves the overall reliability while enhancing the fuel economy.

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