Did BMW and Mercedes engage in a game of sales chicken?

BMW and Mercedes-Benz took a bit longer than other manufacturers to report their final sales figures for 2011, and some analysts believe the delay may have something to do with the fact that both automakers were vying for the sales crown among luxury makes. Long-time champion Lexus suffered production setbacks at the hands of the earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan last March, which left the door open for the two German companies to make a move for the top slot. In the end, Mercedes-Benz announced its numbers first. BMW followed suit by revealing the company had bested its rival by fewer than 3,000 units.

But the story doesn't end there. According to, Mercedes-Benz may have been pulling a few tricks in an attempt to nab the top spot. The site claims Mercedes-Benz was offering sizable bonuses to dealers who agreed to take a certain number of vehicles into their test fleets. Those models could then be listed as sold before being plopped onto the used lot with like-new warranties a day later.

That wouldn't be the first time an automaker has resorted to shell games in an attempt to swipe a sales crown. The Detroit Bureau reports Cadillac once had to recant its victory after playing similar tricks.

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