Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus brand outsold luxury rivals Mercedes and BMW in the latest quarter as inventory shortages triggered by the pandemic hampered the German brands.
Lexus, which hasn’t won the annual U.S. luxury sales race in a decade, grew 2% on the year to 75,285 vehicles in the third quarter. Deliveries at Daimler AG’s premium line declined 9.4% to 69,631 units, and BMW AG suffered a 16% decline to 69,570. Mercedes is still leading the other two carmakers year-to-date by a wide margin.
Lexus has weathered the pandemic better than its German rivals, with the brand’s best-selling RX SUV seeing strong demand in the quarter. Both Mercedes and BMW have been hamstrung by tight inventory as the pandemic idled plants in Europe and the U.S. for weeks. Lexus saw a 31% jump in September alone, led by its RX, NX crossover and ES sedan. That pared declines this year to 13%.
“BMW used sales have been very strong – I think it’s eating the new car demand because of the inventory shortage,” said Marc Cohen, vice president at Priority 1 Automotive Group in Maryland, which operates two BMW stores.
BMW dealers adapted by selling customers on vehicles that hadn’t yet arrived on the lot and with soaring sales of off-lease cars. After making do with tight inventory in July and August, BMW had a record month in September as its supply