Mercedes Rides $29,900 Coupe to Bigger U.S. Luxury Lead

Mercedes-Benz widened its U.S. luxury-vehicle lead over Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW in November as sales of the new entry-level CLA coupe contributed almost all of the Daimler AG unit’s gain.

Mercedes sold 3,623 CLAs in the $29,900 car’s second full month of availability, according to a statement yesterday from the Stuttgart, Germany-based company. The total increase was 4,061, or 13 percent from a year earlier, to a November record 34,376 vehicles. BMW sold 699 of its entry-level coupe, the 1 Series, which starts at $31,500.

“People were skeptical as to how luxury consumers would receive a sub-$30,000 Mercedes,” said Alec Gutierrez, an auto analyst at Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, California. “They did a phenomenal job of making it look like an upmarket, upscale small car without it looking like a smaller version of their bigger cars.”

The November results extend Mercedes’s lead over BMW for the year to 7,610 vehicles, from 4,986 through October. The Daimler unit is seeking to end BMW’s two-year reign in annual U.S. luxury sales. Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in July that he expected his company to come up short again in 2013.

Consumers researching the CLA at Kelley Blue Book’s website were most likely to also consider Mercedes’s C-Class, BMW’s 3 Series and Honda Motor Co.’s Accord, according to data from

BMW’s Gain

BMW reported November sales of 31,752, a 1.7 percent increase from a year earlier. The Munich-based automaker posted gains of 22 percent of its 3 Series and 4 Series cars and 13 percent for its X1 compact sport-utility vehicle.

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

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 September, owners had registered 216,724 new BMW vehicles in the U.S., compared with 206,952 from Mercedes, according to Polk.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus, the top-selling luxury-auto brand in the U.S. for 11 years through 2010, posted a 13 percent increase in November, helped by a 99 percent gain for the entry-level IS sedan. Deliveries rose to 25,611 for the month and have climbed 12 percent to 239,090 for the year, the Toyota City, Japan-based company said in a statement.

Cadillac, Audi

General Motors Co.’s Cadillac reported an 11 percent sales increase to 16,172, on demand for the new ATS and XTS sedans. Cadillac sales for the year have advanced 25 percent to 164,378, Detroit-based GM said in a statement.

U.S. sales of Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand rose 13 percent to 13,636, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company said in a statement. Audi, which has posted record sales for 35 months in a row, reported increases of 31 percent for the Q5 SUV and 32 percent for the A6 sedan. Sales for the year are up 13 percent to 141,048.

Porsche, the Stuttgart-based automaker that’s now part of Volkswagen, said its sales climbed 2.6 percent to 3,966 for the month and have risen 22 percent to 39,077 this year.

Honda’s Acura sales rose 19 percent to 14,559 last month, including gains of 81 percent for the revamped MDX SUV and 21 percent for the smaller RDX SUV, according to the Tokyo-based company’s statement. Acura’s total for the year has increased 6.8 percent to 149,685, as a 21 percent rise for SUVs overcame an 8.6 percent decline for cars.

Infiniti, Lincoln

Nissan Motor Co. said its Infiniti division’s November sales gained 11 percent to 13,152. Infiniti has sold 103,223 vehicles this year, down 3.8 percent, according to a statement from the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker.

Sales of Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand advanced 17 percent to 6,727 last month, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker said in a statement. The redesigned MKZ sedan led the gains, as sales more than doubled to 2,854. The model’s California deliveries to individual customers more than tripled, the company said.

Land Rover monthly sales climbed 25 percent to 4,601, while Jaguar’s more than doubled to 1,446, according to a statement. The U.K.-based brands are owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd.

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