NEW YORK — Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that sales gains by both BMW and Mercedes in March 2012 “indicate that the battle to be the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. will continue through 2012 as inventories and new products arrive in dealerships. BMW took the top spot last year with a lead of just 2,715 units over its German rival.”
BMW finished the first quarter of 2012 with 36 more deliveries than Mercedes-Benz in the U.S., aided in part by a redesigned 3-series sedan. After three months, Munich-based BMW retook the sales lead over Stuttgart, Germany-based Mercedes, which had held a 770 unit advantage after February. BMW sales rose 17%to 61,549 in the first quarter. During the same period, Mercedes deliveries advanced 15 percent to 61,513.
BMW became the top-selling U.S. luxury auto brand last year after Lexus had held the spot for the previous 11 years.
The battle between BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which is clearly competitive in the American retail market, has crossed over into the chauffeured transportation sector with BMW’s official introduction of a livery program in the U.S. BMW displayed two livery-capable vehicles at this year’s 2012 International LCT Show: the 7-series sedan and the 5-series Gran Turismo.
Immediately following the Show, Washington, D.C.’s RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Services ordered 15 BMW 535i Gran Turismo sedans as de facto fleet replacements for its Town Cars. Canadian limo service Global Alliance Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation Services, based in Toronto, also plan to buy 10 BMW 535xi Gran Turismo sedans, the AWD version of the 535i GT.
The fleet incentive price point of $48,000 for the 535i GT, combined with a 50,000 mile free maintenance plan, makes the vehicle a viable and affordable option to operators who may not have previously considered adding BMW to their fleet.
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Source: Bloomgberg BusinessWeek; Michael Campos, LCT associate editor