Toyota's luxury arm is gunning for BMW's crown.
Each year around about this time, we start to get a clearer picture of which automaker will emerge as the best-selling luxury brand in the United States. Last year, BMW was all smiles after pipping both Mercedes-Benz and Lexus on the sales charts in what was a pandemic-ravaged year. Based on 2021's third-quarter results alone, Lexus must be feeling pretty good. Toyota's luxury arm managed to outsell both BMW and Mercedes-Benz, a result that indicates that Lexus is managing the global semiconductor chip shortage better than its rivals.
For Q3, Lexus sold 81,093 vehicles in total. BMW, which remains in the lead when 2021's total sales are taken into account, sold 75,619 cars. Mercedes was in third place with sales of 55,130 passenger vehicles and Audi could only manage 41,019. BMW brand sales increased by 8.7% relative to the same period a year ago and Lexus saw an increase of 7.7%, but both Mercedes and Audi showed a decline. The biggest loser was Mercedes, with sales in the US decreasing by 21% in the third quarter compared to the same quarter in 2020. Mercedes didn't beat about the bush, saying that despite excellent demand, the semiconductor chip shortage directly created supply challenges.
Michelle Krebs, an Autotrader analyst, told BNN Bloomberg that Lexus outsold its rivals despite having fewer cars on dealer lots. "What we have seen throughout the shortage is that Toyota and Lexus have extremely efficient distribution systems," said Krebs. "Despite having the lowest inventories in the industry, they still seem to manage to get vehicles quickly to dealers for sale."
All the luxury brands' SUVs led the way in terms of sales, with BMW's X3/X5, Lexus's RX/NX, Mercedes-Benz's GLE-Class, and Audi's Q3/Q5 models performing strongly. With an all-new Lexus NX revealed in June and a new LX 600 on the way soon, the Japanese marque is well-positioned for a strong end to the year.