• Sep 8, 2009
2009 BMW 3-Series - Click above for high-res image gallery

Lexus has been the undisputed king of luxury automotive sales in the U.S. for the 21st century. It hasn't even been close. BMW has played second fiddle the entire decade, but through the first eight months of 2009, the German luxury car maker has made some major gains on its Japanese luxury competitor. In fact, through August only 2,293 vehicles separate BMW from becoming the new king of the mountain.

BMW's climb to the top of the sales charts comes during a sales downturn the likes of which hasn't been seen in decades, yet the Bavarian automaker has weathered the storm much better than Lexus. BMW sales are down 33,000 units versus the first eight months of 2008, a 28 percent decline. Lexus is down an amazing 40 percent through eight months, a 40,000 unit decline. BMW owes much of its momentum to the venerable 3-Series, which is down 24 percent on the year yet still handily outselling the Lexus IS and ES. Lexus is staying in the lead on the back of its perennially successful RX crossover, which is down only four percent over the year.

While BMW has plenty to be proud of in a down year, catching Lexus is no sure thing. Lexus actually bested BMW by a substantial 3,600 units in August, proof that Toyota's luxury arm is getting stronger as the year progresses. In the end, top luxury sales is only good for one thing, and that's marketing. Lexus has been number one so long that it doesn't even need to brag any more, but if BMW manages to pull out the win in 2009, we're sure there'll be more than a couple celebratory commercials.



[Source: Free Press]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 47 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't care if BMW ever does "takes the crown" from Lexus, after how the sales people and even the nose-turning front desk greeter at BMW of San Francisco treated me two years ago, I'm never buying one of their cars. Sure, some BMW dealerships are plenty nice, like Weatherford in Berkeley, but they're still no match for the Lexus customer service I've experienced coast to coast.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Its a triangle story

      BWM -> crown of Lexus
      Lexus -> crown of Buick
      Buick -> crown of BMW
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lexus LS is still the quietest of the bunch... Decibels wise, low and high frequency wise... Goes to show that they know luxury best and deserve to be on top.

      Luxury is worth paying for. .. Performance otoh is not. Especially on the abomination that is the current state of roads. Not to mention the ridiculous low posted speed limits and cops out enforcing them... Having twin turbo or M badge aint fun with a cop writing you a ticket for going 5mph over the posted ridiculous speed limits.

      Blocking out all the noise and pampered by luxury suspensions otoh is... Lexus unlike the rest knows the traditional meaning of luxury better than most... Light steering that requires minimal effort.. excellent ergonomics and top notch materials along with tight gaps.. all are the hall marks of a great car.
        JDM Life
        • 5 Years Ago
        Lexus is Top luxury. Period. BMW is not going to past them any time soon. Believe me.





        Sal....you cant forget Lexus do make the harsh, brute, Loud and hella fast IS-F.......
      • 5 Years Ago
      Stop with this non-sense now!

      Lexus has took the lead in August and will keep it for good for the rest of 2009. With the HS250h going on sale and the GX replacement coming later this year I just don't see how BMW can get the lead back...

      http://lexusnet.com/blog/2009-us-luxury-sales-crown-battle-august-update/

      "The truly rich, who aren't affected by the economy unless you count having to delay the construction of the second tennis court, buy BMWs."

      By the way, that statement is just about BS at best... Don't you know that half of the BMWs are LEASED? Which makes them VERY EASY TO OBTAIN due to the crazy lease deals that BMW comes up in order to move their money cows - 3er and 5er. Lexus on the other hand SELLS more cars than LEASE...

      With the monthly payment for my entry level Lexus I can easily be driving a 550i if I want to go with the lease route...

      So to you BMW fanboys, open your eyes, read up and look around, don't get your head stuck in your you-know-what too deep so you can't smell the roses...
        • 5 Years Ago
        What's the market saturation? I know you can't move a car in California unless you have a good lease program so I'm curious if both brands sell as well in the state (if you've got numbers that you're pulling from)? ie, does BMW lease more because they move a lot more cars in california or is it across the board?
        • 5 Years Ago
        hey zamafir

        how much does bmw pay you? I'm looking to work from home as well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        hey anonymous j, might want to read autoblog a bit more, i'm the resident Audi fanboy, read any BMW article. Thanks for playing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How many of you out there have actually owned a Lexus? I have a 04 LS 430 and it will kick the ass of any little Beemers, Mercs and Audis except their hot rod models. The only thing it doesn't have is the legenday pixie dust, possessed only by storied Britsh , German and Italian models in its class. It has a really good'madman' gear and supension setting to settle most arguments. In any case, 0-60 and top speeds are all crap in a land where if you go over 100mph it's 3 years in the galleys.
      Me, I just float along listening to my great steroe an dptying th epoor folks who invested in something bound to spend time at the dealers and not out there with me.
      Own one and drive one before you comment
        • 5 Years Ago
        As a former Lexus owner and current BMW owner, I'd have to side with the various Lexus fanboys if pure luxury and an isolated/insulated commute are your thing. After lengthy ownership of an ES and LS, I had enough of boredom with my luxury appliances however and ended up with a BMW that unfortunately is only slightly less boring performance wise. I long for the lightweight, no nonsense performance of the BMW of old.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Although i hate BMW, their cars in the UK are very classy on the inside. For a car they try to make sporty it is extremely luxurious. The lexus cars in the UK are probably not even in the Top 10, its a surprise that you guys in the US rave about them so much. Give me a jaguar any day though. Even a range rover is quite comfortable. Mercedes etc. they all have luxury arms and are quite good in my opinion.
      • 5 Years Ago
      BMW has a much more diverse range of products. BMW offers a range of cool looking 2 door coupes as well as family sedans and SUVs. Lexus is stuck with its old-man 4 door sedans and a single SUV. When Lexus' target market gets hit by the economy, there isn't a range of product to rely on. Additionally, there's just not much for the younger crowd to like about Lexus other than the IS sedan. If a young person wanted a straightforward 2 door hardtop coupe, Lexus has no offering other than the disproportionate looking IS convertible/retractable.

      However, I won't buy either of these brands simply because I don't want to even display the pretense of snooty luxury. If either of these would offer something a bit more blue collar with cloth seats and without the gawdy wood grain interiors, I would almost consider it at that point, but only for the wonderful mechanicals. But there is something that totally turns me off about cars that associate with a certain income level or exclusive group (like greenies). That's also one of the reasons I wouldn't buy an ugly hybrid like a Prius or Insight. While I would appreciate the economy, I don't want to be viewed as a tree hugger.







        • 5 Years Ago
        Why be so insecure about yourself? If you can afford the experience, whether it be for the luxury or the performance or both, then go for it. I wouldn't deprive myself of a good ownership experience because I don't want some random person on the highway to think that I think I'm better than them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you want a Lexus but don't want the brand, just get a Toyota. They are quite literally exactly the same for most of the models. Its just badge engineering with a slightly nicer trim and a dealer that kisses your ass more. Seriously, an ES300 is just a Camry with all the options and they come to your house with a loaner when it needs service instead of you taking it to the dealer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Patapon,

        "Why be so insecure about yourself?"... It's quite the opposite. I have no self-esteem issues in this regard, which is why I don't need a luxo-barge to project a false self image. Like I said, I just want a "blue collar" car. I don't care so much what people think. I just want a comfortable attractive vehicle, and Lexus doesn't fit the bill.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Same here, I would love a vehicle as MECHANICALLY sound as the Lexus. I suspect my Corolla may be, but I'll never know. Of course, Toyota has no reason to build a mechanically superior car without charging superior prices, so you might as well put your butt in leather seats after the huge investment.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lexus = Luxury Camry driven by affluent zombies (or the living dead, if you prefer)...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or people that drive to work everyday. Seriously, driving dynamics don't matter for crap when your crawling through stop and go traffic during rush hour. Getting from my house to work at 7:00 in the morning, I would rather take the quietest most detached drive possible, and maybe a manual Bimmer for the weekend.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Lexus = Luxury Camry driven by affluent zombies (or the living dead, if you prefer)...

        ------------------------------

        That's hilarious!!!

        Isn't Lexus the Japanese equivalent to the Buick? - noting BUICK WAS HERE FIRST.

        The folks I see driving Lexus are old codgers stepping out with their ladies from the old folks home and single women in the late 40s and 50s who are on their way home from a consult with the plastic surgeon.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sometimes, they're driven by douchbags who drive like they think its a Supra. First get IS300 owners, I'm looking at you.
        JDM Life
        • 5 Years Ago
        knightuc1992 = Fail
      • 5 Years Ago
      The truly rich, who aren't affected by the economy unless you count having to delay the construction of the second tennis court, buy BMWs. Lexus is a more "affordable" luxury brand, sought after by those who are actually affected by the economy.

      Gotta love that widening gap.
        • 5 Years Ago
        what you said is total twaddle. merc and lexus are the top when it comes to the wealthy country club set.

        bmw is favored by the young and flashy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The only BMW the unaffected wealthy might buy is the 7-series, but those buyers will likely consider the ls460 too. I would bet the ones who really are unaffected likely just go to Mercedes and get themselves an S-Class and an SL550
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am finding the comments here quite amusing. All the people raving about Lexus are just talking about how "quiet" and "smooth" the cars are, and how they just "float along". Funny, those are all descriptions that used to be synonymous with Buick, Cadillac and Lincoln. And yet those brands are considered geriatric by many, and Lexus isn't. To me, Lexus is for women and old people. There's just nothing interesting there. The IS is probably decent, but it's kind of homely in my eyes, and I see no reason to choose it over a G37 or 3-series. I'd be interested in seeing what the average age of buyers is for Buick versus Lexus.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So, from an enthusiast's perspective, the formerly great marque that has lost its way in the last few years is catching up to the marque that never had a clue to start with.

      Just remember, kids, the vast majority of Americans prefers soft, bland, fancy cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Many Lexus are also sold as Toyotas in countries where the Lexus brand doesn't exist. If all those were counted as Lexus, how close world wide would they be?

        • 5 Years Ago
        not a big deal , BMW was always ahead of Lexus world wide.
      JDM Life
      • 5 Years Ago
      Highy doubt it.


      Sit in a BMW then sit in a Lexus then you will understand why I doubt it. Its not like Lexus is siting still. Lexus is doing extremely well and they are goin to get better.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        zamafir

        Lexus has got bmw beat in the luxury dept hands down across the range including the 7. Yes their performance could use some work and BMW has got still got a fair lead in that dept, the differences are not as dramatic as your fanboyism make them out to be.

        I also think it's worth noting that a big huge chunk of bmw "sales" are leases while the majority of Lexus sales are actual purchases.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        ... what cars? It's hard to compare any of the IS models to the 335i, or anything in the lexus range to the Z4, 6 series, 3 series coupe. Even the LS doesn't feel appreciably better than the revised 7 series. As much as BMW makes me yawn, the switch gear is higher quality in the bimmer, and it looks better too, having finally grown into it's shape.
        JDM Life
        • 5 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        zamafir....


        Stop talking. Your only hurting yourself.
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