Mercedes Extends U.S. Luxury Lead Over BMW in April

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz extended its lead over Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW in U.S. luxury sales, as increases were reported for some pricier models, a sign wealthier consumers are more confident with the economic recovery.

Higher-end luxury models, such as BMW’s 7 Series, which starts at $73,600, and the Audi A8, which starts at $72,200, rose 69 percent and 30 percent respectively. The Mercedes SL-Class, which starts at $105,000, more than tripled to 938 deliveries in April.

“These are small numbers but still these are really sizable gains for some of the most expensive vehicles in the market today, excluding the exotics,” Alec Gutierrez, an auto analyst for Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, California, said in a telephone interview.

Sales for the Mercedes brand rose 5.8 percent to 23,635 in April, while BMW posted a 10 percent increase to 23,225. The April results widened Mercedes’s 2013 lead to 4,695 vehicles as the two German automakers compete for the sales crown BMW has held for two years, based on reported sales. Counting registrations, Mercedes topped BMW, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co.

Mercedes sales for the year through April gained 11 percent to 92,822, Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler said yesterday in a statement. BMW’s 2013 deliveries rose 6.7 percent to 88,127, the Munich-based company said yesterday in a statement. The results don’t include Daimler’s cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles.

Confidence Climbs

Confidence among U.S. consumers climbed more than forecast in April to a five-month high as Americans’ outlook for the economy and their incomes improved, according to a gauge from the Conference Board. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 11 percent this year and closed at a record of 1,597.57 April 30. The index has gained for six straight months, the longest such streak since September 2009.

“For the more wealthy, more affluent buyers, knowing the values of their homes are a little more steady for the foreseeable future, it gives them the confidence to jump out into the marketplace and buy something new,” said Kelley Blue Book’s Gutierrez.

U.S. sales of Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand rose 14 percent to 13,157, according to a statement. That was the brand’s 28th straight month of record sales. The gains included 27 percent for the A5 sedan and 32 percent for the Q5 SUV. Sales for the year rose 15 percent to 47,343.

Porsche, the Stuttgart-based automaker that is now part of Volkswagen, said in a statement that it sold 4,032 vehicles in the U.S. in April, a monthly record, for a 17 percent gain.

Lexus, Cadillac

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus reported a 3.1 percent increase for April, to 18,091, as deliveries of the ES sedan surged 71 percent and the RX SUV rose 3.1 percent. Lexus, which was the annual sales leader for 11 years until natural disasters in Asia curtailed 2011 output, said it has sold 74,831 vehicles this year, a 12 percent gain.

General Motors Co.’s Cadillac rose 34 percent to 13,230 vehicles in April, helped by the new ATS and XTS sedans, which accounted for 42 percent of deliveries, according to a statement from the Detroit-based company. GM sold 2,725 of the ATS and 2,891 of the new XTS.

Honda Motor Co.’s Acura brand boosted sales 14 percent to 13,899 last month, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement.

Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti sold 7,844 vehicles, an increase of 10 percent from a year earlier, the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker said in a statement.

Ford Motor Co. sold 7,615 Lincolns in April, a 21 gain from a year earlier, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker reported. Ford said sales of the MKZ sedan more than doubled to 4,102, the first time the model has topped the 4,000 mark.

Land Rover sales rose 7.6 percent to 3,543, while Jaguar’s gained 6.3 percent to 1,141, according to an e-mailed statement. The U.K. brands are owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd.

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