During the first nine months of 2020, luxury cars outperformed mainstream models in the US market. The market share of luxury models increased to 44.3% in 2020, from 40% in 2019.
According to the research data analyzed and published by Stock Apps, the leading luxury brand in 2020 based on Q1 to Q3 performance was Mercedes Benz. In total, it sold 196,838 units in the US during the period, signifying a 12.2% year-over-year (YoY) drop. Comparatively, in the first nine months of 2019, Mercedes Benz had sold a total of 224,212 units.
Tesla took the second spot with 196,000 unit sales, up from 161,400 unit sales in the first nine months of 2019. Of the top 16 brands, it was in fact the only one to record positive growth in the nine-month duration. The increase was an impressive 21.4% YoY.
Toyota Motor Corp brand Lexus was third with 182,087 unit sales, compared to 209,551 in the previous year period. It had shed 13.1% YoY.
However, for the third quarter of 2020, Lexus was the leading brand globally, having toppled rivals Mercedes and BMW. In the three-month period, it sold 75,285 units, up by 2.2% from a similar period in 2019.
Second-placed Mercedes Benz sold 69,631 units, down by 9.4% YoY, while BMW was close behind with 69,570 unit sales, a drop of 16% YoY.
Lexus Sales Rose by 31% in September 2020
Lexus was one of the six luxury brands in the top 16 categories to report positive growth in Q3 2020. The others were Tesla, with an increase of 16.8%, Acura at 1.6%, Volvo with 11.1%, Porsche at 5.0% and Alfa Romeo with 17.3%.
Interestingly, Lexus has not topped the luxury brand sales list in 10 years. The brand performed better than its German rivals Mercedes Benz and BMW during the pandemic.
Typically, the two brands battle it out against each other for the annual sales title. In 2019, BMW beat Mercedes to take the crown with a difference of only 4,000 units according to Car Buzz. But during the pandemic period in 2020, tight inventory weakened the performance of the two as their plants in the US and Europe idled for weeks.
For Lexus, sufficient inventory meant it was better able to weather the global crisis. September 2020 was an especially good month as sales soared by 31% with the NX and RX crossovers and ES sedan in the lead. This increase pared the year-to-date (YTD) decline significantly.
During the three-month period, Lexus RX was the brand’s best seller. It had a total of 29,438 units, up from 28,109 in Q3 2019.
BMW’s best-seller for the duration was its RX rival, the X3, which sold 16,326 units. In September, BMW finally had new arrivals on its dealership lots, initiating a rebound.
According to Statista, the luxury cars market globally is projected to generate $26.29 trillion in 2020. It will mark a 16.7% decline YoY. Most of the market’s revenue will be generated in the US, with an estimated revenue of $8.61 trillion.
Utility Brands Accounted for 50.6% of Q3 Sales, Toyota in the Lead
Overall, US automobile sales declined by 10% YoY in Q3 2020 according to Cox Automotive. Comparatively, Q2 2020 had seen a drop of 34.1%. However, total vehicle sales rose by 6.1% in September thanks to the Labor Day weekend and two extra selling days during that month.
For light vehicles in the US, Q3 2020 offered a significant improvement over Q2 2020 but was still down YoY. According to Just Auto, there were a total of 3.9 million unit sales in the quarter, an increase of 32% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ). The figure was, however, down by 8.9% YoY. Looking at the YTD total at the end of September, there was a deficit of 19.4% (10.4 million) compared to a similar period in 2019 (12.3 million).
Moreover, utility brands dominated the market as crossovers and SUVs were the top performers in Q3 2020, accounting for a 50.6% share of all deliveries. For the period between January and September 2020, they held a 48% share of the pie.
The top utility brand during the quarter was Toyota. It also led in terms of YTD sales at the end of September. Toyota also led in passenger cars for both the third quarter and YTD totals. In total, Toyota sold 558,449 units in Q3 2020 and 1,452,226 units in the first nine months of 2020.
The fastest declining vehicle segment in the US market is the large sedan as it saw a drop of 41% in sales during Q1 to Q3 2020. In that period, the market share of the segment has dropped to 1.8% from 2.4% during a similar period in 2019.