LUXURY: Mercedes all but locks down U.S. title

AR 31Mercedes-Benz sold the most luxury autos in the U.S. again in November, virtually guaranteeing that the Daimler AG brand will take the full-year title from BMW.

Sales of the Mercedes GLC sport utility vehicle more than tripled while C-class car deliveries held steady, giving the brand a 1.1 percent increase for the month to 30,363, according to a statement today. Toyota Motor Corp. said Lexus slipped 1 percent to 29,050, and BMW AG reported an 18 percent drop to 26,189 for its namesake brand.

Mercedes is offering more SUVs and in a broader price range, said Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “They have a sense of how to make them attainable without losing that sense of luxury,” which is giving Mercedes a competitive advantage, she said.

With only one month to go, Mercedes leads Lexus by more than 18,000 and BMW by about 28,000. A Mercedes victory for the year would recapture the crown BMW claimed in 2015 and 2014. The two German automakers have held the top spot in U.S. luxury sales since 2011, when BMW ended Lexus’s 11-year reign.

Through November, sales by Daimler’s brand with the three-pointed star logo slipped 0.2 percent to 308,226. Lexus deliveries declined 4.3 percent to 290,046 and BMW’s dropped 10 percent to 280,339. The tallies exclude Daimler’s Smart cars and Mercedes work vans, as well as BMW’s Mini line, because they aren’t luxury vehicles.

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