With Lexus, the luxury leader for the past eleven years, out of the game because of earthquake-weakened production, Mercedes and BMW battled for luxury-car supremacy in the U.S. market. Both manufacturers were cagey with statistics; Bloomberg News said each refused to post until the other did. Mercedes blinked first at 8:56 a.m., January 5, and BMW posted two hours later: BMW’s 247,907 sales topped Mercedes-Benz by 2,715 vehicles.
In fact, the BMW Group finished 2011 with its second-best year in the U.S., selling 305,418 vehicles, up 15% from 2010’s 265,757—and second only to 2007’s all-time sales mark of 307,020.
Worldwide sales of BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce automobiles rose 14.2% last year to reach a total of 1,668,982 vehicles, topping 2010 sales (1,461,166) by more than 200,000 vehicles. December sales were 11.9% higher than in the same month in 2010, 158,125 vehicles to 141,358.
Mini sales reached a record 285,060 vehicles in 2011, up nearly 22% from 2010’s 234,175; as Mini’s cars grew, well, a little less mini, their sales likewise expanded; the Mini Countryman accounted for 89,036 sales in its first full year of sales.
Meanwhile, over at Goodwood, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars achieved its highest sales ever in 2011— 3,538 cars—while Mercedes threw in the towel and announced the end of the high-end Maybach. Production of that $350,000 Roller-wannabe will end in 2013 with the introduction of Mercedes’ new S-Class model.—Satch Carlson