Luxury Sales Surge: Are The Fat Cats Not Feeling The Recession?

Follow Bengt

2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

Enlarge Photo
Are luxury-car shoppers feeling the recession in the same way everyone else is? Take a look at the boarded-up store fronts on Main St., then check out the country club parking lot, political contribution coffers, and luxury dealerships and you might feel differently.

There's a distinct division as well between the Miracle Mile auto malls and boutique showrooms: sales of luxury vehicles, and in some cases larger discretionary vehicles, are going strong while mass-market sales continue to take a dive.

Over the past month, Audi was up 14 percent, Mercedes-Benz up 15 percent, Porsche was up 33 percent, and Jaguar sales were up 62 percent—all versus August 2009.

Meanwhile, mainstream brands are all down. In some cases, way down. Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, and Honda were all down more than 25 percent, while Mitsubishi was down 37 percent and Suzuki sales were 68 percent lower than August of last year.

Don't forget about the Clunkers

Before going any further with this, there's one very simple explanation: Cash for Clunkers. Last August, the U.S. auto market was in a frenzy, looking to buy some of the most economical vehicles that might qualify for a federal rebate of up to $4,500. It cleared lots of smaller, affordably priced cars while not generating much traffic at luxury dealerships.

And before thinking that the fat cats are spending big, it's worth considering that these numbers are all compared to last August, when luxury sales all but ground to a halt. "It stopped, effectively, all traffic at dealerships," recalled Jesse Toprak, VP for industry trends at the pricing intelligence firm TrueCar, leaving most at rock bottom for sales volume. "Some Mercedes-Benz and BMW dealerships had parties when it [Cash for Clunkers] was all over."

Follow Us

Comments (5)
  1. Could this have been written in a more "hate the rich" manner? Never mind, rhetorical question. M-B, Audi, Lexus, et al owners and dealers employ Americans ("workers" to you.) BTW, I'm not an owner or dealer of any of these vehicles.

  2. It seems the only recession the fat-cats are concerned over is that of their hairlines. It could also be done to smart investment moves and saving money when things were good, as many people didnt attempt to do such things.

  3. Perhaps it is more that they realize a good deal when they see one. Now is the time to buy while prices are at their lowest and incentive offers are at their highest in many years. Not to mention gently used high end vehicles can be had at a fraction of what they were just a couple years ago. Those that have some discretionary income are just taking advantage of a luxury "blue light special" if you will...

  4. There's no mystery here. The recession slaughtered sales and now that the economy is recovering the sales are returning. The only reason the increase is so big is because the decrease was too, WAY worse than that for the non-luxury makes.

  5. I think the article was quite accurate in why the sales stopped. The money did not disappear for many people that buy these cars but in 2009 the uncertainty of the stock market coupled with the fact that luxury was not fashionable in 2009 meant that most people just delayed replacing the higher-end cars and so we see pent-up demand this year. It will be interesting to see how 2011 sales compare to 2010.

Commenting is closed for old articles.

Take Us With You!


Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Research New Cars


© 2015 MotorAuthority. All Rights Reserved. MotorAuthority is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.