Less expensive cars, SUVs driving growth in luxury auto sales

The growth in sales at the lower end of the luxury market is leading some automakers to introduce new offerings such as BMW's 320i.

Luxury car and SUV sales and leases are up 11% so far this year after climbing 13.7% in 2012, according to a new analysis by Kelley Blue Book.

The growth has been driven by sales at the lower end of the luxury segment, said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst at auto price information company Kelley Blue Book.


“The brands that are doing best are the entry level luxuries lines: Acura, Infiniti, Lexus,” Gutierrez said. “Success at the entry level is why you see Mercedes-Benz introducing the CLA and BMW introducing the 320i.”

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is a new sedan with a starting price of $29,900, according to the automaker. The BMW 320i starts at $33,445.

BMW led all luxury brands in 2012 with sales of 278,709 vehicles, followed closely by Mercedes-Benz (274,064), according to Kelley Blue Book. They were followed by Lexus (225,842), Acura (156,216) and Cadillac (147,848).

Acura had the biggest year-over-year increase in sales in 2012, up 26.7% to 156,216.

Luxury sales were up 13.7% to 1,580,634 vehicles in 2012 from a year earlier, Kelley Blue Book said.

Through February, luxury sales are up 11% compared with the first two months of 2012, with Mercedes-Benz (44,541 vehicles), BMW (37,516) and Lexus (31,366) leading the way.

Luxury car and SUV sales and leases represent about 11% of the automotive market, Gutierrez said.


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