BMW Increases Sales, Gaining on Lexus, Mercedes

July brought an increase of 16% in sales for BMW AG’s BMW brand, which means the luxury brand is that much closer to overtaking Toyota Motor Corporation’s Lexus, which gained one percent amid massive recall troubles. Mercedes-Benz sold 17,367 units, which is up 7% from the previous year, meaning they are also closing the gap with Lexus.

New models like the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class have meant big sales for the two brands, and less of a sales lead for Lexus. Recalls for the Toyota Lexus brand included luxury models like the LS 460 sedan and the GX 460 SUV.

Jessica Caldwell, analyst for, said, “Right when Lexus is hitting a weak spot, plenty of other cars are able to swoop in and take market share. Talk about a three-horse race—it’s really close.” Caldwell also noted that Lexus has been the luxury leader since 2000.

As of the end of last month, Lexus had sold a total of 126,025 cars and light trucks. The total for Mercedes was 121,041 and 119,696 for BMW. This is the second straight month that BMW has been able to gain on Lexus, and the brand is poised to overtake Lexus as number one in luxury sales by 2012 if the current trend holds.

BMW has sold 9.6 more 5 Series sedans and 51% more X5 SUVs this July than it did in July of 2009. Mercedes C-Class sales are up 19% for the month of July. A 9.4% drop in demand hurt Lexus, but deliveries of SUVs were up 12%.

Jesse Toprak, analyst for of Santa Monica, California, says that luxury sales are recovering faster than the U.S. market as a whole. “A lot of people who wanted to buy luxury vehicles in the past two years postponed their decision because it didn’t feel right in hard times. These people still want the latest technology. There’s a lot of pent-up demand.”

The CARS government rebate clunker program did not inflate luxury sales numbers like it did the less expensive models last summer, says Roger Penske, CEO of Penske Automotive Group, Incorporated. During a recent conference call, he commented that third-quarter sales numbers should be “as good or better than last year.”

GM’s Cadillac brand more than doubled sales for last month. Toprak said, “Cadillac’s product lineup is the best they’ve ever had.”

Ford’s Lincoln brand experienced a 16% decline. Sales for both the MKS sedan and the Town Car were down. The Town Car will be discontinued by the company.

Honda Motor Company’s sales of the Acura are up 50%, and Nissan’s luxury Infiniti lineup is up 38% from the previous year.

Volkswagen AG reports Audi sales rose 22%. Porsche SE also reported a rise of 75%. Tata Motors Limited also experienced a spike of 26% over last year.

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