August Euro Car Sales: The Sweet, Sweet Smell Of Success Evades The Bavarians

By Blake Z. Rong | September 07, 2012
A brisk month for luxury brands, and a forgettable one for BMW: August was a month that saw yet another—we’re rolling our eyes here, too—sales record for Audi (all-time sales record in August, 20th consecutive month of huge sales, gold stars from Ms. Hartline’s 3rd-grade class), who at this point has rewritten history books and become the Heartbeat of America. Mercedes-Benz did well for itself too—though the real story is BMW, which saw sales sink by 33.9 percent after a decent July sales period. "August numbers show how tight the supply of new vehicles has been for us," said Ludwig Willisch, president of BMW of North America. Yeah, Ludo. They all went to go buy Audis. Audi Winners
  • Oh look, another sales record from Audi, which rivals that of Lance Armstrong’s record and the 2007 Patriots, but hopefully with less scandals. This month it was buoyed primarily by the A6, which led Audi sales by magically doubling by 58.6 percent.
  • The A5 also increased by 26.9 percent, selling 1,677 units.
  • And while we’re sipping our alphabet soup here, the A4 increased by 21.5 percent to 3,187 cars sold. This is Audi’s bread and butter, their Toyota Camry equivalent of the lineup—but don’t tell them that.
Audi Losers
  • Audi sold half as many R8s this year as they did last year; the company chalks this loss up to influential trendsetter Tony Stark, who traded his R8 Spyder for an Acura product. On Twitter, they took to arms: "It’s ironic that Stark gave this up for vaporware." Rumors that Stark later invested all of his money into the Phantom console remain unsubstantiated.
  • As for flamboyant products, 30 fewer people bought a TT this August than last, 201 sold, mostly to architects and people who work at coffee houses. Working as managers, that is—at $38,650, it could buy 17,976 Starbucks frappucinos.
BMW Winners
  • BMW sold twice as many 6 Series as it did last year. Impressive! Right? Well, just 453 examples this month, which is about how many beige 520d Latvian taxis it builds before lunchtime.
  • The X3 and X5 sold decently well to consumers, under the reassurance that they’ll never be forced to use the phrase "Sports Activity Vehicle."
  • Lastly, the X1 did pretty well for itself, seeing as it exists now where none existed (in America) last year. That represents a 100-percent increase.
BMW Losers
  • BMW had a battered month this month: overall sales plummeted by 33.9 percent, which is rare considering the fact that BMW is usually more popular than Jesus and French fries. The one car that was less popular than those two was the 5 Series, which dropped 60.7 percent, from 4,294 to 1,688 cars over a year.
  • Only 180 bought the Z4, and just one person—we assume—bought one with a manual transmission, thereby predicting the next USA Today report about the death of the manual transmission.
Mercedes-Benz Winners
  • The C-Class sold well, as Benz pushed 6,519 of them at a decent clip.
  • About 2,775 GLKs strutted off their catwalks and fashion shoots and into the private two-car elevator-equipped garages of La Jolla, we assume.
  • The SL and SLK both sold by leaps and bounds compared to last year: 604 for the former and 373 for the latter. Well, "leaps and bounds" means a lot different things when you’re talking Sport Leicht.
Mercedes-Benz Losers
  • Fewer than 5,000 E-Classes entered this mortal realm kicking and screaming, down by about 19.8 percent.
  • There might be a new CL soon. Maybe. If there is, then Benz had a difficult time unloading 64 of the big pillarless coupes to people who eschew newness.
  • And just 14 R-Classes were sold, making the R-Class a loser. Don't worry, it's going out of production this year for the U.S. No, you haven’t heard of it—as evident by this month’s figures. Could the R-Class sell well towards Gen-X hipsters?
Volkswagen Winners
  • Volkswagen sold 10,090 Passat sedans this year. This represents a decent jump from last August when Volkswagen sold 314 Passats. This sales determination is akin to the juggernaut-like status of VW products, reminiscent of (insert hackneyed World War II reference here), or could be a testament to the Passat itself, which we hear is very, very good. (Note: it is.)
  • There were 4,265 Golf Rs sold this month, 2 GTIs, and one regular four-door Golf. Just kidding. The breakdown was closer to 2,342 Golfs, 1,544 GTIs, and 382 of the limited Golf Rs. But can you imagine?
  • The Jetta sold 13,377 examples this month, a modest increase of 6.1 percent—but the interesting news here is the SportWagen, which increased by nine percent. Are Americans buying wagons again? Well, 2,069 did. They should all be given Presidential Medals of Freedom.
Volkswagen Losers
  • Practicality over design: all those people that bought Passats shunned the CC, which about 300 less people bought this month than last. "Don’t hate me cuz I’m beautiful," the CC was last reported to say while sobbing into an gin rickey, "Hate me because I’ve got no rear headroom."
  • The Eos, too, sold barely 600 units this month. It can be found next to the CC in the same cocktail bar, edging up against a group of young college lads in an effort to postpone its fading age and generic underpinnings.
  • The Routan is on its way out. We never missed you.
  • You can’t buy a Passat Wagon. You couldn’t buy one last year. Go back to bed.
Jaguar Winners
  • A pretty good month for Jaguar, undoubtedly coming off its Mad Men shenanigans. The XJ brought up sales of the brand by 39 percent, from 307 to 493 cars, and the XF increased from 409 to 493 cars sold in August, for a total of a 27-percent increase for the brand.
Jaguar Losers
  • When a company builds just three cars, you can’t really count them as a loser—after all, the X-Type is dead. But the fact that the XK saw an increase of 14 percent shows how cutthroat it is to build three cars, and none of them duds, per se. One-hundred ten XKs left the door.
Land Rover Winners
  • The Range Rover Evoque sold exactly 700 units this month, up from a high last month of exactly zero examples (it went on sale last October, and can therefore be considered a runaway, record-smashing success).
  • The Range Rover Sport carried the brand this month with 1,530 examples, which is testament to what a little roof-chopping and supercharging can do. Helpful hint to rappers: rhyme it with "port," both of the Long Beach and single quinta vintage varieties. Kanye: you have my number on speed-dial.
Land Rover Losers
  • The LR2 is a little like My First Land Rover, and it shows: it sold 82 cars fewer than before.
  • Sales of the Range Rover dipped by about 10 cars, just in time for a new Range Rover. And while you’re at it, maybe reconsider changing the official name from "Land Rover Range Rover"?
  • And the LR4 is the last refuge of a proper off-roading Land Rover, which is why it sold just 589 units. Down from 608, which isn’t much either. Off roading ain’t dead; it’s just practiced by people in used Defenders.
Mini Winners
  • Yes, there are intrinsic differences within Mini’s lineup, no matter how shallow or convoluted. But the original Cooper and Cooper S were the highest-selling here, a reminder that you just can’t beat the original. Some 2,333 cars carried the company to an 83.9 percent total gain, reminiscent of the same disdain for spin-offs that proved so tricky for Matt LeBlanc.
  • Wait, scratch that: one spin-off proved to be popular. Mini sold 2,050 Countryman SUV-lets this month, which increased from last year’s 642. Rumors that Mini product planners, strengthened by the success of this larger Mini, are planning to build a two-door off-road coupe variant called the Paceman are absolutely correct.
Mini Losers
  • Mostly everything else: the Cooper convertible, the Clubman, the Cooper Roadster, and the disingenuously named Cooper Coupe all sold within the triple digits, and less than 500 this month.
Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, et al:
  • If you have to ask, you can’t afford the down payment.
For a full list of highlights and sales numbers, check out Motor Trend's Todd Lassa's breakdown of August's ups and downs.