BMW widens lead over Lexus in annual U.S. sales

BMW widened its lead over Toyota’s Lexus, which boosted incentive spending in November while the German brand cut back, as the three-way U.S. luxury-auto sales race enters the homestretch. Mercedes-Benz delayed its results a day, leaving the year-to-date standings in doubt.

Sales at BMW rose 3.2 percent to 32,003, as deliveries of the X3 sport utility vehicle more than doubled. Lexus gained 6.8 percent to a November record of 29,340, helped by its revamped RX SUV. Daimler AG’s Mercedes said its reporting system malfunctioned.

Lexus, which hasn’t claimed the annual sales crown since 2010, boosted average incentives 19 percent last month as it started year-end promotions early, according to TrueCar Inc. estimates. The wasn’t enough to gain on BMW, which TrueCar said reduced its spending 3.6 percent from a year earlier, while Mercedes trimmed its discounts 7.4 percent. Lexus still spent less per vehicle than the two rivals.

The November results mean Lexus is unlikely to catch BMW for the year, said Eric Lyman, a TrueCar vice president. “It’s something they could manage if they were willing to go nuts on incentives. But I can’t see them doing that just to get the sales crown.”

BMW, which won the 2014 title, through October was ahead by 533 over Mercedes and about 5,500 over Lexus. The November sales increased BMW’s lead over Lexus to more than 8,000.