The top luxury brands are increasing the incentives/discounts on older models in their battle for the top U.S. sales leader. According to data researcher Autodata Corp., BMW has increased incentives 6.9 percent this year, while Mercedes Benz raised discounts 11 percent and Lexus boosted discounts by a whopping 54 percent.
For the year, BMW trails sales leader Mercedes by less than 2,000 cars sold (through May), and leads Lexus by over 16,000 units sold. All three manufacturers' sales have outpaced the U.S. light vehicle market's 13 percent gain for the year. BMW year over year sales are up 14 percent through May.
BMW wrested the top U.S. sales leader position from Lexus last year after Lexus occupied the top spot for 11 years. Lexus concedes that it's unlikely to regain the top spot this year, with a target of 250,000 units - which is less than 1 percent more than BMW's sales in the U.S. last year (BMW sold 247,907 cars in 2011). This leaves BMW and Mercedes to battle it out for the U.S. sales crown this year.
Discounts on BMWs climbed to an average of $4,218 per vehicle in May.
The company pared discounts on SUVs by 9.4 percent from a year earlier to an average of $2,286. According to Jeff Gerken, general manager of BMW South County near San Diego, BMW has approached its incentive strategy "scientifically and strategically." So-called loyalty offers that give current BMW owners $1,500 to $2,000 rebates have "done a lot to help us sell cars," he said.
"They're not just putting thousands of dollars in the trunks," Gerken said. "You almost need your ouija board to put a car deal together today. They're pulling all the strings that they possibly can."
Where is Audi in this discussion? Audi is not in the sales battle picture as its goal is just 200,000 cars annually in the U.S. by 2018
. It sold just 117,561 cars in the U.S. last year. But, like BMW and Mercedes, it has also increased incentives on its cars by 18 percent - to $3,553 per car and $2,261 per SUV in May.
Source: Automotive News