Mercedes Leads BMW in U.S. Sales for Year After May Gain

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz held onto the U.S. luxury-vehicle sales lead for the year over Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW brand, as Mercedes deliveries in May jumped 19 percent.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus brand, rebounding from inventory shortages after last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, soared 74 percent to 21,463.

U.S. sales of Mercedes vehicles rose to 22,515 last month while BMW deliveries increased 7.3 percent to 22,168, according to statements yesterday from the companies. Lexus and Mercedes-Benz increased incentives 37 percent and 23 percent compared to BMW’s 0.8 percent gain, according to Santa Monica, California-based researcher

“In a lot of the key markets, leasing can make up three-quarters of sales,” Jesse Toprak, a TrueCar analyst, said in an interview yesterday. Luxury-vehicle incentives often take the form of lease offers.

BMW and Mercedes both overtook Lexus last year, with BMW emerging as the top U.S. auto luxury brand. BMW, based in Munich, finished the first quarter of 2012 with 36 more deliveries than Mercedes.

Mercedes sales for this year through May increased 18 percent to 106,364, giving the Stuttgart, Germany-based automaker a lead of 1,585 vehicles over BMW, which had a sales increase of 14 percent for the period. Lexus deliveries rose 14 percent to 88,110 in the first five months.

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

C-Class, M-Class

Mercedes was helped by deliveries of the updated C-Class sedan, up 35 percent in May, and the M-Class sport-utility vehicle, up 66 percent, the automaker said in a statement yesterday.

BMW and Mercedes are also in a global luxury race with Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand.

Audi deliveries rose 10 percent in the U.S. last month to 11,503, the 17th consecutive month of record sales, the premium brand of Wolfsburg, Germany-based VW, said in a statement. After five months, Audi’s U.S. sales this year rose 14 percent to 52,494, ahead of General Motors Co.’s Cadillac brand at 50,688.

Cadillac declined 15 percent to 9,871 in May as the luxury brand suffered from the elimination of old models before new ones, such as the XTS, reach dealers starting this month. Cadillac sales have fallen 22 percent through May, the company said in a statement yesterday.

Acura, Porsche

Honda Motor Co., based in Tokyo, said in a statement that sales for its Acura brand rose 62 percent to 14,586 last month. Acura year-earlier sales were affected by production disruptions stemming from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Porsche AG, the Stuttgart-based automaker, sold 2,852 vehicles in the U.S., a 1.2 percent gain, the company said in a statement.

Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti sold 10,592 vehicles, a 66 percent gain from a year earlier, the Yokohama, Japan-based company said in a statement yesterday.

Ford Motor Co. sold 7,274 Lincolns in May, a 1.7 percent decline from a year earlier, according to a statement from the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker.

Land Rover deliveries rose 19 percent to 3,438, while Jaguar sales declined 15 percent to 1,075, according to an e-mailed statement. The U.K. brands are owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd.