BMW Out Sells and Out prices Other Manufacturers to Lead in "True Luxury" Category [Archive] - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

: BMW Out Sells and Out prices Other Manufacturers to Lead in "True Luxury" Category

02-24-2010, 02:33 PM
It is an interesting test of market share that senior editor of Automotive News John K. Teahen Jr. has come up with. I'm not sure how much value I think it has, but is some fun numbers to look at.

BMW leads in U.S. true-luxury for 2009
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John K. Teahen Jr.

Once again, I'm about to make one friend and more enemies than I need. It's time to crown the true-luxury sales king in the United States for 2009.

I define true luxury as a car with a sticker price of $45,000 or more. Why $45,000? Well, when SalesTales started this exercise, it was $40,000, which was the price at which the federal luxury tax kicked in. The tax is gone, but car prices continue to rise. Ergo, $45,000.

Automotive News Europe sister publication Automotive News estimates that 600,000 true-luxury cars were sold last year in the United States, about the same number as in 2008. The true-luxury total had dipped 30 percent in 2008.

The 2009 leader and new champion was the BMW brand, with 119,219. It was the closest race ever. BMW beat Mercedes-Benz by just 431 units.

Mercedes, which had an estimated 118,788 true-luxury sales last year, was the leader in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

BMW's 119,219 deliveries meant that 61 percent of its 196,502 sales were in the true-luxury category. Mercedes was a fraction better at 62 percent.

BMW and Mercedes finished second and third in the overall luxury segment. Lexus led that group, but 58 percent of Lexus sales were taken by the ES 350, IS 250 and 350 and RX 350 and 450h. All are priced below $45,000.

Those models are luxurious, no question about that, but their price stickers disqualify them from consideration in the true-luxury class. Only 39 percent of Lexus sales were over-$45,000 models.

Near-luxury models also figured in the BMW and Mercedes breakout. BMW's 1 series and all but a single model of its best-selling 3 series check in at less than $45,000.

Likewise at Mercedes, where the C series accounts for 28 percent of sales and all but one model, the super-super AMG, are well under $45,000.

Lexus had 83,754 true-luxury sales, followed by Cadillac with 64,801 or 59 percent of total Cadillac sales. Most sales of the CTS sedan and SRX crossover are under $45,000. They are Cadillac's two best-selling lines.

The SalesTales true-luxury class includes all major brands that had at least 20 percent of their 2009 U.S. sales in the over-$45,000 segment. It consisted of two domestic brands (Cadillac and Lincoln), four from Germany (BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi), three from Japan (Lexus, Infiniti, Acura) and two from the UK (Jaguar and Land Rover).

You can see that BMW partisans think I'm a pretty nice guy, an opinion not shared by fans of other high-priced brands. They disclaim, "Such-and-such brand has high rebates. That cuts the price." They're right.

Or, "Look at the standard equipment level. That affects the price." They're right, too.

The SalesTales study is just what it purports to be in the second paragraph above -- comparison based on sticker prices.

So keep the rocks and pebbles coming. After 63 years in this business, I have a pretty stout back.

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