Mercedes Widens Luxury Lead by Giving the Devil His Due

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz sold more than 2,300 of its $29,900 CLA coupe in its first week of availability, helping the brand post a 6.7 percent September gain and widen its U.S. luxury-vehicle lead.

The CLA has been promoted in a television spot featuring actor Willem Dafoe as the devil. Mercedes also boosted E-Class deliveries by 17 percent to 5,647 last month. Mercedes sold 24,697 vehicles, according to a statement yesterday from Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler. The CLA is Mercedes’s first car in the U.S. with a starting price under $30,000.

“As the bargain entrance into the Mercedes portfolio, we weren’t sure how luxury buyers would react,” said Alec Gutierrez, auto analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “Through one week, it looks like they’re scooping it up.”

Deliveries for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW brand rose 8.3 percent in September from a year earlier to 23,568, helped by demand for its 7 Series, whose deliveries more than tripled, and 5 Series sedans, the Munich-based automaker said.

The September results expanded Mercedes’s lead for 2013 to 2,491 vehicles, 215,056 to 212,565, up from a margin of 1,362 through August. BMW has sold the most luxury vehicles in the U.S. the past two years. Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in July he expected his company to come up short again in 2013.

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

Lexus Lags

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus, the top-selling luxury-auto brand in the U.S. for 11 years through 2010, posted a 4.2 percent decrease in September. Deliveries slid to 19,522, Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota said yesterday in a statement.

BMW’s status as annual leader for 2012 was based on reported sales. By vehicle registrations, Mercedes topped BMW last year, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co. Through this June, owners had registered 141,724 new BMW vehicles in the U.S., compared with 134,326 from Mercedes, according to Polk.

General Motors Co.’s Cadillac reported a 9.9 percent sales increase to 13,828, on demand for the new ATS and XTS sedans and the SRX SUV. Cadillac sales for the year have climbed 29 percent to 133,414, Detroit-based GM said in a statement yesterday.

VW’s Luxury Brands

U.S. sales of Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand rose 6.2 percent to 13,065, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company said in a statement. Audi, which has now posted record sales for 33 consecutive months, reported a 45 percent rise for the Q5 SUV and 29 percent increase for the A4 sedan. Sales for the year through September are up 14 percent to 114,411.

Porsche, the Stuttgart-based automaker that’s now part of Volkswagen, said its September sales climbed 13 percent to 3,093. Deliveries for the year have risen 26 percent to 31,549.

Honda Motor Co.’s Acura sales fell 19 percent to 11,648 last month, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement. Sales of the new RDX SUV rose 2.9 percent to 3,022, and the larger MDX dropped 3.3 percent to 4,539.

Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti division fell 4.3 percent to 9,040, according to statement from the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker.

Ford Motor Co. sold 6,453 Lincolns in September, a 5.1 percent decrease from a year earlier, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker said in a statement yesterday.

Land Rover sales fell 6.8 percent to 3,387, while Jaguar’s jumped 31 percent to 1,313, according to an e-mailed statement. The U.K.-based brands are owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd.

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