This is a perceptive analysis by Katie Spence of the Motley Fool, concerning the end-of-year BMW-Mercedes-Benz sales battle in the U.S. and the wild-card CLA Coupe that's been thrown into the mix. In July, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said he didn't expected Mercedes to outsell BMW in 2013. However, that was before the release of the impressive down-market CLA coupe. Mercedes' sales have surged, and the top-selling luxury brand race looks wide open.
For the past two years, BMW won the title of top-selling luxury brand in the U.S., and hoped to do the same in 2013. Then, Mercedes released its CLA in September, with a starting MSRP of $29,900. Considering that the "cheapest" Mercedes used to be the C-Class Sedan -- which has a starting MSRP of $35,800 -- the CLA's lower entry-point is good news for Mercedes dealers. And a lower entry-point isn't the only thing going for the CLA.
Thanks to direct Injection and rapid-multispark ignition, the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine produces 208 horsepower, and 248 pound-feet of torque, which allows the CLA250 to go from 0 to 60 in 6.9 seconds. The ECO start/stop shuts off the engine when the car is idling, leading to an estimated fuel economy of 26 mpg city, and 38 mpg highway. the CLA is front-wheel drive,though all-wheel drive is available. In November, Mercedes reported that it sold 3,623 CLAs, and year-to-date U.S. sales for the model were 10,828. Strong CLA sales helped extend Mercedes' lead over BMW by 7,610 vehicles.
Back in November 2012, Mercedes was ahead of BMW when BMW unleashed its December sales initiative, and ended up taking the luxury sales crown for 2012. This year, however, BMW doesn't have a sedan to compete with the CLA's price. The comparable 320i sedan has a starting MSRP of $32,750.
U.S. CLA sales are still surging, and December could turn out to be a strong month for the model. Plus, the Automotive Leasing Guide just released a study estimating that a three-year old CLA will have the highest residual value of any compact car in the premium segment.
The title of top-selling luxury auto-brand in the U.S. is a highly coveted crown, and BMW could pull something out of the bag at the last minute -- like it did last year. But the CLA could make it hard for BMW to overtake Mercedes' lead. So, while it's not over until Dec. 31, it seems likely that Mercedes will win the title. Losing the title won't devastate BMW as a company, it still has an incredibly strong brand, and offers investors significant potential. But this is a contest investors should watch.
And if you want to influence the outcome, go out and buy a new BMW.—Paul DucheneBack to News