By Kurt Ernst
According to numbers reported by the automakers at the close of last year, BMW sold 281,460 cars in the United States, excluding its MINI brand. Luxury rival Mercedes-Benz sold 274,134 cars on these shores in 2012, excluding both Smart and its family of Sprinter vans.
BMW was quick to promote the fact that it outsold Mercedes for the second year in a row, and the issue seemed to be over. Until yesterday, that is, when Mercedes-Benz USA president and CEO Steve Cannon presented an entirely different set of numbers at an International Motor Press Association meeting.
As Motor Authority reports, Cannon based his revised numbers on an R.L. Polk report of new vehicle registrations. In 2012, Mercedes sold 274,134 new vehicles, of which 274,123 were registered. That’s a difference of just 11 units, which is significantly lower than some rival luxury brands.
Lexus, for example, sold 244,166 new vehicles but saw only 242,533 new vehicles registered. What happened to the other 1,633 vehicles is anyone’s guess, but the majority were probably “sold” on paper, then shuffled back into service as dealer demos or loaner cars. Eventually, these just-broken-in models were probably sold as used inventory.
What about BMW, who reported 281,460 new car sales in 2012? As Polk reports, the brand only realized 268,498 new car registrations, a difference of 12,962 units. That’s substantial by anyone’s estimation, and while BMW may have booked more sales in 2012, it appears that Mercedes-Benz actually put 5,625 more new vehicles in U.S. driveways last year.
What’s the takeaway from all this? Numbers and statistics can always be shaped to represent a creative, if questionable, view of the facts. No matter what the circumstances, always do your research thoroughly.