Mercedes Extends Luxury Lead as U.S. June Sales Rise 7.6%

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz U.S. sales, fueled by a new sport-utility vehicle and compact coupe, rose 7.6 percent in June, furthering the German automaker’s lead for the year over Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW brand.

Mercedes sold 22,231 cars and SUVs last month, the Stuttgart, Germany-based automaker said. BMW gained 0.4 percent to 21,725 compared with the same period last year, the Munich-based company said in a statement, while Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus rose 86 percent to 20,022.

“This marks a historic milestone for Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. market,” Steve Cannon, chief of Mercedes’s U.S. unit, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “We achieved our highest half-year sales in our 47-year history.”

After six months, Mercedes U.S. sales rose 16 percent to 128,595, to lead BMW by 2,091. BMW, which overtook Lexus last year to become the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S., sold 126,504 during the first half, an 11 percent gain. BMW beat Mercedes last year by 2,715 deliveries.

The results don’t include Daimler’s Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, all of which aren’t luxury vehicles.

Mercedes’s introduction of a new M-Class SUV and new C-Class two-door, along with an updated version of the sedan, all last year, have helped boost sales.

M-Class sales rose 45 percent to 20,626 through June while the C-Class, including both the coupe and sedan, gained 26 percent to 37,686. While sales of the M-Class were down in June, C-Class deliveries surged 41 percent for the month. The automaker may increase sales further later this year when it introduces a new version of the GL three-row SUV and an updated GLK compact SUV.

‘Outperformed Expectations’

“They certainly outperformed expectations,” said Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst with, a Santa Monica, California-based website that tracks auto sales. “They were very, very aggressive with lease specials, especially C- and E-Class vehicles. It seems like it was a conscious effort to get the volume up in the first half.”

Ludwig Willisch, head of BMW’s U.S. unit, has predicted that the brand will again finish No. 1, aided by the new 3 Series. Sales of the compact car fell 26 percent in June to 6,740. The introduction of the all-wheel-drive version of the vehicle in the third quarter may increase sales.

“The June numbers continue the solid, consistent growth we predicted but, most important, the first six months of the year are setting the stage for even better results ahead,” Willisch said in a statement yesterday. “Demand is strong though we’ve been constrained by new model ramp up but supply will soon catch up in the second half of the year.”

Lexus Rises

BMW and Mercedes vaulted into the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, respectively, last year after Toyota struggled with parts and vehicle shortages following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami and flooding in Asia.

After six months, Lexus sales gained 23 percent to 108,132, which is slower pace than Toyota’s 2012 target of a 25 percent increase and 250,000 vehicles sold. The brand may gain sales from the new ES sedan and RX crossover.

Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand are in competition for the world luxury-vehicle title. BMW is in the lead globally through May followed by Audi and Mercedes.

In the U.S., Audi’s sales gained to 26 percent last month to 12,664, the company said in an e-mailed statement. Audi U.S. first-half sales rose 17 percent to 65,158, surpassing General Motors Co.’s Cadillac luxury brand by 2,346 deliveries.

Acura Surges

Cadillac sales rose 12 percent to 12,124 in June while the brand slid 17 percent to 62,812 during the first half, the Detroit-based automaker said in a statement.

Both Audi and Cadillac were beat by Honda Motor Co.’s Acura brand. Sales of the Tokyo-based company’s luxury brand rose 77 percent to 15,370 last month and 20 percent to 72,936 percent during the first half, the company said in a statement.

Porsche AG, the Stuttgart-based automaker, sold 3,002 vehicles in the U.S. last month, an 18 percent increase, the company said in a statement yesterday.

Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti sold 10,436 vehicles last month, a 66 percent gain from a year earlier, the Yokohama, Japan-based company said in a statement yesterday.

Ford Motor Co. sold 7,544 Lincolns in June, a 2.5 percent gain from a year earlier, according to a statement from the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker.

Jaguar Land Rover deliveries rose 2 percent to 4,632, the U.K. brands, owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd., said in an e-mail.

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