Mercedes Passes Audi as BMW Defends Luxury-Car Sales Lead

Mercedes-Benz outsold Audi for the first time this year to become the world’s second-largest luxury car brand in November as a new line of compacts lured customers to the Daimler AG unit.

Mercedes delivered 133,440 cars and sport-utility vehicles last month, an 11 percent jump from a year earlier. That beat the 132,050 cars sold by Volkswagen AG’s Audi. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG defended its lead with its namesake brand delivering 149,660 vehicles last month.

November marked the fifth month in a row that sales gains by Mercedes outpaced increases at BMW and Audi. It was also the first month since December 2012 that the Daimler unit sold more than Audi, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche is seeking to overtake the German rivals after dropping to third in 2011.

A 54 percent surge in demand for compact models, including the four-door CLA coupe and A-Class hatchback, propelled growth at Stuttgart-based Mercedes. In addition to introducing the CLA in April, the brand revamped the S-Class flagship sedan and upgraded the upscale E-Class sedan in 2013.

“The current model cycle is very beneficial for Mercedes,” said Sascha Gommel, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Commerzbank AG. “Audi and BMW have to invest in new production capacities and the development of new models. Mercedes’s investment cycle has peaked and they are entering a phase of outperformance.”

Positive Outlook

With its gains in November, Mercedes has already surpassed last year’s total deliveries. All three German luxury-car manufacturers are targeting sales records this year as demand from China and the U.S. offset weakness in debt-strapped economies in Europe.

“Although conditions remain challenging in a number of European markets, in particular, we expect sales to continue to develop positively over the coming months,” Ian Robertson, head of sales and marketing at Munich-based BMW, said in a statement today. “Our target of record sales for 2013 is now within reach.”

BMW sold 1.5 million cars and SUVs through November, an 8 percent gain. Demand for the new GT variant of the 3-Series and the 4-Series coupe helped lift the brand’s sales. Deliveries of the manufacturer’s Mini unit edged 0.7 percent higher to 274,575 cars. BMW debuted an overhaul of the upscale compact last month.

Expansion Plans

For the first 11 months of 2013, Mercedes remained in third place, with sales advancing 11 percent to 1.32 million vehicles, while Audi’s deliveries rose 7.4 percent to 1.44 million autos.

In a bid to fend off Mercedes, Ingolstadt-based Audi added a sedan version to the A3 line alongside hatchback and wagon models. November sales of the A3 compacts surged 41 percent.

Both Audi and Mercedes have vowed to surpass BMW in sales by the end of the decade. To woo more customers, Audi said earlier this month that it plans to roll out the Q1 subcompact SUV in 2016 in an expansion of its crossover line. Mercedes is introducing the GLA compact SUV as part of a plan to bring out 13 all-new models by 2020.