Luxury vehicle sales up nearly 15 percent in first quarter

(April 25, 2013) IRVINE, Calif. — As overall U.S. auto sales posted respectable gains of more than 6 percent in the first quarter, the luxury market more than doubled overall industry gains at 14.6 percent compared to last year, according to the latest New-Car Market Report from Kelley Blue Book

"The Q1 2013 total of nearly 400,000 luxury units marks the largest first quarter for new luxury vehicle sales since 2007," said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights.

"The luxury crossover segment improved 26.4 percent in the first quarter, thanks to new models such as the Infiniti JX and BMW X1.  In addition, the recently redesigned Acura RDX helped as sales more than tripled from last year in March."

Meanwhile, the Lexus RX continues to set the bar for the segment, more than doubling the sales of its closest competitor, the Cadillac SRX, in March.  Another good sign for luxury manufacturers is that the average transaction price increased from $46,629 in March 2012 to $47,791 this year, an increase of 2.5 percent.

New and improved introductions combined with healthy demand have allowed manufacturers to increase both sales and prices.  Luxury-vehicle sales have been bolstered by growth in household wealth related to gains in both the stock and real estate markets.  As the U.S. economy continues its slow improvement, the auto industry and luxury brands in particular will continue to shine.  

Solid Quarterly Gains for Luxury Vehicles1


Entry-Luxury Car

Luxury Sport Utility

Luxury Car

Total Luxury

Luxury Crossover

Luxury Sports Car

YoY Gain in Q1 Sales







1 Kelley Blue Book Automotive Insights and historical data from OEM sales announcements

Cadillac was the big winner among luxury brands in the first quarter, improving sales by 38 percent from last year, following the launches of ATS and XTS.

"Cadillac looks to gain more market share later this year with the release of the completely redesigned 2014 CTS, replacing an aging model that has seen a 35 percent decline from last year," said Gutierrez.  "In addition to solid sales growth, Cadillac enjoyed a 5 percent increase in average transaction prices in March, averaging $49,800."

Although Cadillac led year-over-year gains among luxury automakers for the quarter, Mercedes-Benz maintained the top spot in terms of market share in the luxury segment at 17.2 percent, reporting its highest Q1 sales volume ever.  Mercedes-Benz is in a prime position to stay on top with the upcoming entry-level CLA-Class and a redesigned E-Class.  BMW, only slightly trailing Mercedes-Benz in market share at 16 percent through the first quarter, will challenge Mercedes-Benz with introductions of its 320i sedan and the 4 Series coupe.

Rounding out the top three in overall luxury sales was Lexus, whose 15.5 percent growth in the first quarter was driven largely by the redesigned 2013 ES.  Built off the all-new Toyota Avalon platform, the 2013 ES nearly doubled its quarterly sales from last year and trails only the 3 Series and C-Class in the entry-luxury segment.  Lexus will continue to rely on the strength of the ES until the all-new 2014 IS debuts this summer, when the IS will experience its first major overhaul in eight years.