For Mercedes, sealing U.S. luxury sales crown will be a cinch

For Mercedes, sealing U.S. luxury sales crown will be a cinch
The year's not over, but Mercedes-Benz is so far in the lead that it's pretty safe to call it the year's top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. (Mercedes)

With just a month left to tally, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz has all but clinched another year of luxury dominance in the U.S. market.

Mercedes eked out a 1.6 percent monthly sales gain in November on strong demand for its GLC sport utility vehicle. BMW AG, which boosted deliveries 7.1 percent last month on the strength of its X5 SUV and redesigned 5 Series sedan, is trailing Mercedes year to date in the U.S. by more than 30,000 cars.

“Mercedes-Benz has been more successful in the SUV space – they have more (and more practical) offerings,” Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for car-shopping website Edmunds, said in an email. “BMW is trying to stop losing consumers who need a larger SUV to their competitors.”

Mercedes has spent a second straight year leading the U.S. market after snatching the crown from BMW last year. BMW, which finished No. 3 in 2016 behind Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus, is less than 2,000 units ahead of its Japanese competitor in year-to-date sales, meaning the “silver medal” for 2017 is still very much in play.

BMW – which also lost the global luxury lead last year to Mercedes – is responding with the biggest rollout of new and revamped models in its history, including bigger SUVs, like the X7 concept it showed at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Lexus, which topped Mercedes in U.S. sales for two straight months this summer, said November deliveries fell 6.7 percent as its cars slumped more than 20 percent. Volkswagen AG’s Audi, which reported a 12 percent gain for November, is the only one of the four biggest luxury brands in the U.S. that has posted a year-to-date sales increase.

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