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BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz vs. Audi: U.S. Sales 2006-2015

2016 BMW 3-Series

2015 is expected to be the second consecutive year and the ninth in the last ten years that BMW USA has sold more new vehicles than its German rival, Mercedes-Benz. 2013, was the lone exception to the rule, as the big Stuttgart luxury automaker outsold its Munich foe in America by a narrow 3254-unit margin.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW are both increasingly dependent on SUVs/crossovers for their U.S. sales volume. Through the first 11 months of 2015, 33% of the BMWs sold in America were X1s, X3s, X4s, X5s, and X6s

When this chart began, back in 2006, BMW’s X3 and X5 – the lone SAVs at that point – generated just 21% of BMW’s volume. BMW sold variants of the 3-Series, 5-Series, 6-Series, 7-Series, Z4, X3, and X5 in 2006, along with five remaining Z8s. In 2015, BMW sells a 2-Series, 3-Series, 4-Series, 5-Series, 6-Series, 7-Series, Z4, i3, i8, X1, X3, X4, X5, and X6.

USA sales chart Mercedes-Benz vs. Audi vs. BMW 2006-2015
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At Mercedes-Benz, 39% of the brand’s non-Sprinter/Metris sales in 2015 are SUV/CUV-derived. Volume generated by the G-Class, GL-Class, GLA-Class, GLC-Class, GLE-Class, GLK-Class, and M-Class totalled 121,435 units in 2015’s first 11 months, a 16% year-over-year increase. 

That compares with BMW’s 102,100 SUV/CUV sales, a 5% improvement. Mercedes-Benz’s passenger cars are down 2% to 187,450; BMW’s are up 4% to 209,298.

U.S. Vehicle Sales Rankings By Model – November 2015 YTD
U.S. Car Sales Rankings By Model – November 2015 YTD
U.S. SUV/Crossover Sales Rankings By Model – November 2015 YTD

In 2006, Mercedes-Benz’s SUV division consisted of the G-Class, GL-Class, and M-Class. In the future, the GLK will be extinguished in favour of GLC nomenclature. The GLE is replacing the M-Class as we speak. The GL-Class will become the GLS.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

Mercedes-Benz and BMW aren’t the only high-volume premium brands from Germany, of course. Between 2006 and 2015, U.S. sales at Audi jumped 121%. Indeed, since the industry-wide disaster of 2009, Audi sales are up 141%. BMW USA volume rose just 73% since 2009; Mercedes-Benz just 77%. 

Audi’s product portfolio in 2006 was significantly smaller than it is now. The A3 hatchback, A4, A6, A8, TT, and Q7 attempted to lure luxury car buyers. In 2015, the A3 lineup has greatly expanded, and Audi also sells the A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, R8, TT, Q3, Q5, and Q7.

2015 Audi Q5

The Q5 is the brand’s best-selling model and helped to generate a 33% improvement in SUV/CUV sales to 75,843 units in 2015’s first 11 months. Audi car sales are up 1% to 106,320 so far this year.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz have combined to outsell the former number one seller of luxury vehicles in America, Lexus, every year since 2011, when Lexus sales, hampered by a post-Tōhoku earthquake crisis, slid 13% and BMW jumped 13%. 

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.