With 2017 already three quarters of the way over (scary, right?), the race for automakers to sell their hearts out is underway. This isn’t just a competition to see if automakers can set a new sales record as they did in 2016 (doubtful), but the winners and losers in each segment will help signal what the automotive landscape will look like in 2018. Automotive News reports that the luxury segment, which saw the tables turn when BMW was surpassed by Mercedes, is ready for another change.
Unfortunately for German automakers, its an island in Asia that threatens the European nation’s dominance in the midrange luxury segment. Lexus, high on sales after celebrating its best September on record, inched ever so close to second place BMW. Thanks to a 1.5% gain for Lexus that trumped BMW’s 0.7% gain, only 516 vehicles separated the two automakers by the end of September. That puts BMW in a tough position because it means Lexus could easily overtake it by the end of the year. “Lexus sales traditionally shift into high gear as we head toward the end of the year, and we are buoyed by three consecutive months of sales momentum as well as our best-ever September,” said Lexus general manager Jeff Bracken.
He added, “Going forward we have a strong supply of luxury utility vehicles to satisfy customers’ needs through the remainder of 2017.” On the other hand, BMW is also feeling pretty confident. “The hot summer has given way to autumn and an uptick in sales, fueled in part by continued strong demand for the new 5 series, as well as demand in Texas and Florida where customers are now replacing their flood and hurricane damaged vehicles,” said BMW of North America CEO Bernhard Kuhnt. “We are also anticipating growth in our sports activity vehicles as expansion at our X model plant in South Carolina means we’ll have more X5s this month followed by the eagerly awaited introduction of the all-new X3 in November.”
And that leaves Mercedes, which saw a 1.7% slip in sales due to slackened demand for the Sprinter and Metris commercial vehicles. Despite that, the Silver Star managed to keep a hefty 22,000 car lead against BMW since the start of the year, meaning it’s more likely than not to end 2017 as the luxury segment’s leader. While these three big players hold spots one, two, and three, evidence that other luxury automakers could one day threaten the giants comes from double digit percentage increases for Genesis, Jaguar, Land Rover, Infiniti, Porsche, and Volvo last month. Keep a tab on these guys because things are sure to get interesting.