Mercedes-Benz is allowing some customers to skip more monthly payments than BMW and is offering up to $5,000 in discounts to "VIP customers," as part of its efforts to protect its premium-auto sales lead in the United States. According to an October 2, 2012 memo to its dealers, Mercedes initiated a program for 2012 models sold through the month that included cash offers and special lease deals.
In an October 5, 2012 e-mail to dealers, Mercedes announced a promotion for the month that allowed some current Mercedes owners to miss up to five payments. For the first nine months of 2012, Mercedes leads BMW by 5,221 sales in the US. Both premium carmakers are pressured to cash in on the growing US market, as the situation worsens in Europe and Germany and as demand starts to dwindle in China.
Greg Goodwin, chief executive of Kuni Automotive that operates 14 vehicle dealerships, told Bloomberg that the program initiated by Mercedes is not just about being No. 1, remarking that the German carmaker and BMW also are dealing with global competition and the “ebbs and flows” of global demand.
BMW was the top-selling premium carmaker in the US in 2011, prior to which Lexus had been the best-selling brand in the country for 11 years. Mercedes’ five-payment program is similar to a promotion that BMW is employing, under which owners of most of its 2010 models could waive up to three payments to buy a new or certified used vehicle, according to an Oct. 10 notice sent to dealers.