BMW Didn't Get US Sales Crown for 2015, Report Says

BMW 3 Series front grille and badge 1 photo
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It is 2016 now, but it sure feels like 2012’s scandals are back on the table, at least when it comes to US sales figures in the premium segment.
A recent report from IHS/Polk has revealed an inconsistency in the sales and registrations for the top premium brands on the US market. The 2015 registration total for Mercedes-Benz vehicles was revised from 334,692 units to 337,288 vehicles. Reports from Polk reveal that BMW’s records counted 335,259 vehicles, while Lexus topped the US premium segment in 2015 with 340,392 units sold.

The latest twist in the sales battle in the premium segment comes four years after BMW was crowned leader of the class in the United States market and its position was contested by Mercedes-Benz. At the time, it was revealed that the German brand did not have nearly as many registrations as its rival Mercedes-Benz, and a feud erupted between the two carmakers.

While the discrepancy between reported sales and registrations is inevitable, when the numbers add up to reach a few thousand vehicles, things become suspicious. As Mercedes-Benz USA’s CEO at the time Steve Cannon stated, “Volumes can be manipulated. Registrations, not so easy.

The problem this year, as Automotive News reports, is that BMW’s sales lead in the United States of America is not matched by registration figures. BMW representatives have stated that registration figures often lag sales, especially at the end of the year, as many factors influence filings.

Nevertheless, according to the values provided by the IHS/Polk Institute and the manufacturers, BMW registrations are lagging 10,764 units behind the stated sales figures for last year. Mercedes-Benz registrations are off by 5,800 units, while Lexus registrations are lower than reported sales by 4,209 vehicles.

As Polk analysts have already specified, vehicle sales figures and state recordings never fully match. This happens because vehicle purchases and registrations occur differently across US states, and customers can drive their cars for several weeks on dealer plates without having to register them. The difference in timing and the data collection from each state’s DMV leads to situations like these, where it is unclear whether a manufacturer did sell as many vehicles as it claims.

The actual leader of the US premium segment in 2015 will be revealed in a few months, after all the customers have registered their cars and all US states centralize their results.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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