Its most important movie tie-up of the year bombed big-time for Mercedes-Benz in the form of Justice League, which Forbes described as “the highest-grossing box-office bomb of all time.”
But not even that marketing misfire, Batman and Wonder Woman driving Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the movie, could slow the momentum of Mercedes-Benz as it closes in on retaining the title of the best-selling luxury automotive brand in the U.S.
As it nears the year-end battle and looks certain to hold onto the title for the the second consecutive year, its back-to-back wins echo previous winner BMW, which held the title in 2014 and 2015.
Mercedes-Benz this year will best not only key rival BMW once again but also other top premium brands such as Lexus, which regularly held the title until 2011, not to mention Audi, Cadillac, Lincoln, Acura and Infiniti.
Mercedes-Benz began December by outselling BMW by more than 30,000 vehicles in the U.S., or about a month’s worth of deliveries. The end of the year is a feverish time for premium-marque incentives and it’s been a surprisingly strong season for sales, but BMW has only a slim chance of making up enough ground to take the title. In recent years, the race between Mercedes-Benz and BMW was close enough that end-of-year announcement hijinks prevailed.
Mercedes-Benz is doing many things right in the U.S., including its relatively quick broadening of its SUV and crossover-utility-vehicle lineup in recent years to coincide perfectly with the massive shift among American luxury consumers toward those segments—and away from traditional sedans.
Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz made their marks in the U.S. on the strength of a broad sedan lineup, but BMW hasn’t proven as adept as its archrival in exploiting the trend toward SUVs.
What Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has done by preparing his flagship brand for the future also bodes well for Mercedes-Benz, including accelerating plans for deploying a fleet of all-electric and autonomously driven vehicles over the next decade.