Mercedes-Benz Sets the Bar High One Month Into 2014


Mercedes-Benz may have made one of the best calls in its recent history from a business perspective by expanding its presence in the entry-level luxury market, as the brand managed to stay on top of the U.S. luxury market for January at fellow German automaker BMW’s expense. The 22,604 vehicles Mercedes managed to move was just 103 more than January 2013 but enough to outpace BMW, which sold 18,253 vehicles in the U.S. during the month, for a respectable 11 percent gain.

Mercedes’ great success in the United States has been led largely by the CLA, a sleek, coupe-like compact sedan that offers everything Mercedes is known for at a rather un-Mercedes price of less than $30,000 at base. To keep the momentum going, the CLA will be joined by a revitalized C Class and the GLA compact crossover to help further bolster Mercedes’ entry-level options.

However, it wasn’t just the labor of the lower, more affordable models that carried the brand. The new S Class sedan, Mercedes’ largest, saw a sales increase of 37 percent. Prices for the S Class start at $92,900.

Nonetheless, it’s entry-level vehicles and SUVs that are driving the American luxury market. Some 67 percent of luxury vehicles sold in the U.S. fall within those categories, so it’s those segments that will naturally drive further growth.

“That’s where the growth is going to come from,” Kevin Tynan, a Bloomberg Industries analyst, said to Bloomberg. “As they get more significant penetration to the entry car and SUV market, volumes will go up.”

However, Mercedes will be far from alone: BMW isn’t planning on relinquishing its title as the leading luxury manufacturer in America for the second year in a row. A new 3-Series, 4-Series, and 2-Series will help beef up BMW’s entry-level presence, and the X1 compact crossover has that category covered on the utility front.

BMW saw a 34 percent leap for the 3- and 4-Series in January, and the 5-Series sedan put in a respectable 26 percent gain as well, according to Bloomberg.

By reported sales for 2013, Mercedes bested BMW by 3,254 units for the year; by registrations, BMW was up through September, with 216,724 versus 206,952 for Mercedes.