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Audi’s Sub-$30,000 A3 Sedan Boosts Brand’s Record April Sales

Audi’s entry in the expanding sub- $30,000 luxury-car segment helped the Volkswagen AG unit post record April U.S. sales.

The revamped A3 sedan sold 2,159 in its first full month in showrooms, contributing to the brand’s 19 percent increase from a year earlier to 15,653 vehicles, Audi said in a statement yesterday. April was its second-best month ever, the unit of Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen said.

Audi has reported 40 consecutive record monthly sales and is on its way to beating its annual goal of 200,000 by 2020 “a good deal sooner,” Scott Keogh, the brand’s U.S. president, told reporters last month in Mountain View, California. Audi sold about 158,000 vehicles in the U.S. last year.

Audi is trying to keep pace with its German luxury rivals, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, in a segment that Keogh said will grow 15 percent by 2018. Luxury vehicles will increase to about 11.6 percent of U.S. auto sales from 10.5 percent, with much of that growth from entry-level vehicles such as the A3, Keogh said.

Lower-priced models are critical to BMW and Mercedes, which don’t have large high-volume feeder brands that, in theory, draw young buyers and keep them as they move up the economic ladder.

With Volkswagen, Audi should have an edge over BMW and Mercedes to attract new buyers, Kevin Tynan, an auto analyst with Bloomberg Industries, said in an interview. Yet Volkswagen’s struggle to boost U.S. sales has increased the importance of the A3, which starts at $29,900, for Audi.

“It’s almost like Audi can’t even use VW as a feeder brand, so Audi is using the A3 to fill its own feeder role,” Tynan said.

Mercedes, BMW

Mercedes’s CLA, the sporty, sub-$30,000 coupe that helped the brand take the U.S. luxury-sales crown from BMW in 2013, contributed 1,575 deliveries to the Daimler unit’s record April sales of 25,887 vehicles, according to a statement.

The total sales rose 9.5 percent from a year earlier, led by the CLA, as well as gains of 73 percent to 1,909 for its top-of-the-line S-Class sedan, which starts at $92,900, and 37 percent to 6,056 for the E-Class, which begins at $51,400.

BMW said it had April sales of 25,202 vehicles, up 8.5 percent, led by its mid-size sedans and SUVs. The Munich-based automaker reported a combined 19 percent increase to 9,794 deliveries for its 3 Series and 4 Series and an 85 percent jump to 3,544 for the X3 sport-utility vehicle.

Bigger Lead

Mercedes has sold 98,501 vehicles for the year’s first four months, extending its lead over BMW, which delivered 97,579, to 922 cars and SUVs from 237 at the end of March. Sales for Audi through April totaled 50,881.

The figures don’t include Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler’s cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles.

Mercedes for all of last year outsold BMW by 3,254 units, by reported sales. By vehicle registrations, Mercedes beat BMW by 2,270 last year, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus brand posted an April increase of 28 percent to 23,165. Sales more than doubled to 3,780 for the entry-level IS, while RX SUV deliveries rose 15 percent to 8,130, the Toyota City, Japan-based company said in a statement. For the year, sales have jumped 18 percent to 88,250.

Honda Motor Co. reported Acura monthly sales of 14,122, up 1.6 percent. The gains included an 80 percent surge to 5,180 for the MDX sport-utility vehicle and a 6.3 percent increase to 4,344 for the smaller RDX, the Tokyo-based company said.

Cadillac, Infiniti

General Motors Co.’s Cadillac posted a 5.1 percent increase to 13,900, with advances of 36 percent to 3,270 for the CTS sedan and 31 percent to 4,547 for the SRX SUV. Sales of the ATS sedan, winner of last year’s North American Car of the Year award, rose less than 1 percent to 2,737, Detroit-based GM said.

Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti sales gained 17 percent to 9,170 last month, according to a statement from the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker. The top seller was the Q50 sedan, still in its first year on the market, with 2,626.

Sales of Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand fell 11 percent to 6,803, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company reported. Deliveries of its MKZ sedan slid 24 percent to 3,054.

Porsche, the Stuttgart-based automaker that’s part of Volkswagen, said deliveries rose 1 percent to 4,702, as its Cayenne SUV advanced 5.1 percent to 1,839.

Land Rover’s monthly sales climbed 28 percent to 4,533, an April record for the brand, while Jaguar’s fell 9.3 percent to 1,035, according to an e-mailed statement. The two brands are owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd.

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