BMW Tops Lexus, Mercedes in U.S. Luxury Sales for Third Year
(Bloomberg) -- BMW AG outsold rivals Mercedes-Benz and Lexus in 2021 to lead U.S. luxury-car sales for a third consecutive year, buoyed by its efforts to navigate the chip shortage plaguing the auto industry.
The maker of the X5 SUV and 3 Series sedan trounced Daimler AG’s Mercedes by 32,705 units in the fourth quarter and more than 60,000 cars for the full year, a much wider gap than when the two were neck-and-neck amid the pandemic shutdowns of 2020. BMW’s deliveries jumped 21% last year to 336,644, while Mercedes sales rose less than 1%.
BMW capitalized on strong sales of its X3 crossover and X5 models, while sedans rebounded by 18% for the year. Pieter Nota, a member of the company’s board overseeing sales and branding, expects another boost this year as the company brings its electric iX sedan to battle with Tesla Inc. amid growing EV sales.
“Demand for fully electric vehicles is really picking up,” Nota said in an interview. BMW wants to double the 100,000 battery-powered vehicles it sold in 2021 globally, he added.
The 2021 performance was aided by BMW’s decision early in the pandemic to maintain many of its semiconductor orders, according to Nota. While some competitors cut back, BMW’s bullish stance paid off months later.
Just as Toyota Motor Corp. outsold General Motors Co. in overall U.S. sales last year in part because of its supply-chain savvy, the luxury market also became a test of which companies could best navigate the tumult. Nota expects the chip shortage to continue to squeeze luxury sales in the next few months, but may ease up in the second half of the year.
Lexus, which is owned by Toyota, grew sales 11% last year, led by its RX SUV and ES sedan, echoing gains by its mass-market parent. The GLE SUV led Mercedes sales, rising 35%, while Mercedes’ second-biggest seller, the GLC mid-size crossover, was down slightly.
Sales at Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit rose 5% to 196,038, led by the Q3 crossover and Q5 SUV. Deliveries of the battery-powered e-tron climbed 26%. Porsche sales grew 22%, led by the Macan compact SUV. Deliveries of the electric Taycan more than doubled.
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