This isn't the first time, either.
Much to the relief of everyone, 2020 is now a distant memory, allowing automakers to release their final sales figures for the challenging year. Despite setbacks brought by the pandemic, many automakers ended 2020 on a high. Strong sales of the Telluride SUV, for example, helped Kia achieve its best-ever retail sales year, while the launch of the new CX-30 helped Mazda achieve its best December sales ever. Now, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz have released their final 2020 figures, allowing us to compare sales of the three rival luxury automakers.
For the second year in a row, BMW came out on top as America's best-selling premium automaker in 2020 with 278,732 units sold. Disruption caused by the pandemic meant that sales were down 18 percent from last year, but this was still enough to beat Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. Falling closely behind BMW, Lexus sold 275,041 cars in the US last year. Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, finished 2020 with 274,916 sold in the US, a 13-percent drop compared to last year.
Audi followed in fourth place with 186,620 units sold in 2020, followed by Cadillac (129,495 units), Volvo (110,129 units), and Lincoln (105,410 units).
In Q4 2020, BMW sold a total of 98,750 cars in America, enabling the Bavarian automaker to beat the competition's total sales in 2020. For comparison, Lexus sold 5,796 fewer cars in the same quarter, but Mercedes sales were down by a more significant margin with 20,672 fewer cars sold in Q4 2020. Impressively, BMW's Q4 sales were only down by two percent compared to last year after the automaker ramped up production at its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. As expected, the BMW X3, X5, and X7 SUVs were the automaker's top-selling models in the US last year.
Sales of BMW's SUVs increased by 9.6 percent in Q4 2020 compared to Q4 2019 and accounted for 60 percent of the automaker's 2020 US sales. Mercedes' SUV sales also spiked, accounting for nearly 65 percent of the automaker's total US sales last year.
"There is no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year for automotive sales, but we have found that these challenges were due more to the circumstances, rather than consumer demand," said Bernhard Kuhnt, president and CEO at BMW of North America. "We owe our dealers and regional teams a lot of credit for their flexibility and dedication while adapting to the situation. With their support we felt very confident throughout the second half of the year as consumer deliveries grew quickly -- even exceeding own expectations."