Lexus Sales Top German Rivals as Chip Shortage Roils U.S. Luxury
(Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp.’s premium Lexus brand outsold its German rivals in the U.S. luxury market in the third quarter, a sign it’s navigating the global chip shortage more deftly than competitors.
Lexus sold 81,093 vehicles in the quarter, led by its RX and NX SUVs, which accounted for more than half its deliveries in the period. BMW AG, which counts on its Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant for popular crossovers like the X3 and X5, delivered 75,619 vehicles. It’s still leading the four biggest luxury carmakers in 2021 sales through September.
Lexus managed to top Mercedes-Benz and BMW even though it had fewer cars on dealer lots, said Michelle Krebs, an analyst for Autotrader, a unit of researcher Cox Automotive.
“What we have seen throughout the shortage is that Toyota and Lexus have extremely efficient distribution systems,” Krebs said. “Despite having the lowest inventories in the industry, they still seem to manage to get vehicles quickly to dealers for sale.”
It helps that Lexus’s dealer network is smaller than those of larger mass-market brands, which Krebs said have to spread limited inventory across a bigger swath of retailers.
Mercedes took the biggest hit in the third quarter, with U.S. sales falling 21% from July through September compared to 2020. BMW brand sales grew 8.7% from a year ago, when pandemic shutdowns were idling plants, while Lexus was up 7.7% in the same period.
“Despite very strong demand across our lineup, the global semiconductor shortage created some supply challenges in Q3,” Dimitris Psillakis, president of Mercedes’s U.S. operations, said in a statement.
The Mercedes C-Class sedan and GLE SUV led sales. The German automaker is preparing to bring its flagship electric vehicle, the EQS sedan, to the U.S. this fall.
Sales at Audi AG were also dampened by chip shortages last quarter, falling 14% year-over-year to 41,019. The Q5 SUV and Q3 crossover were the biggest sellers. Sales of the electric e-tron plunged 84%.
So far this year, all four luxury brands have grown sales versus 2020.
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