Mercedes Stokes U.S. Lead as New Models Fuel February Record

Mercedes-Benz, the top-selling luxury-auto brand in the U.S. last year, extended its 2014 lead with record February sales on the strength of new models.

The Daimler AG unit sold 22,609 vehicles last month, a gain of 2.6 percent from a year earlier, led by the revamped S-Class sedan, which starts at $92,900, and the new entry-level CLA car, with a base price of $29,900, according to a statement yesterday.

Mercedes beat Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW, which reported a 3.3 percent February gain to 22,017, for the second month this year and now holds a 4,943-vehicle lead. Munich-based BMW ceded the annual U.S. luxury-sales crown to Mercedes in 2013, ending a two-year reign.

“Mercedes is hitting it on the product portfolio,” Larry Dominique, president of Santa Barbara, California-based ALG Inc., which sets vehicle residual values, said in an interview. “It seems BMW has been a little behind the curve on the product side. But they’re not dumb. They’ll come back pretty strong.”

Sales of Mercedes’s S-Class almost doubled to 1,789 in February while the CLA, which debuted in September, sold 1,971. BMW was led by a combined 12 percent increase for its 3 Series and 4 Series and a 52 percent jump for the X3 sport-utility vehicle.

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

Mercedes for all of last year outsold BMW by 3,254 units, in results by reported sales. By vehicle registrations, Mercedes outsold BMW by 2,270 last year, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co.

Lexus, Cadillac

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus luxury brand posted a February increase of 8.7 percent to 18,855. Sales more than doubled for the entry-level IS, to 3,517, and for the GX SUV, to 1,590, the Toyota City, Japan-based company said in a statement.

General Motors Co.’s Cadillac reported a 2.9 percent drop to 13,437, as deliveries fell for every model except the SRX crossover, which rose 23 percent. Sales of the ATS sedan, winner of last year’s North American Car of the Year award, declined 28 percent to 2,427, Detroit-based GM said.

“Domestic luxury brands are harder hit than some of their import counterparts when it comes to their regional mix,” Alec Gutierrez, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, California, said in a telephone interview. “Mercedes and BMW are just stronger on the West Coast and East Coast.”

Audi Streak

Audi sold 10,881 vehicles, four more than a year earlier, according to a statement from the unit of Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen AG. That kept alive Audi’s streak of 38 consecutive months of record sales. The February results included a 34 percent gain for its Q7 SUV.

Honda Motor Co. reported that Acura sales rose 1.6 percent to 11,545 last month. The gains included a 55 percent surge to 4,563 for the MDX SUV and a 4.2 percent increase to 2,911 for the RDX, the Tokyo-based company said.

Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti sales gained 6.4 percent to 9,729 in February, according to a statement from the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker. Infiniti’s top sellers were the QX60 SUV, up 18 percent to 2,704, and the Q50 sedan, still in its first year on the market, with 3,275.

Monthly sales of Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand jumped 36 percent to 6,661, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company reported. Deliveries of its cars more than doubled to 3,815, led by the redesigned MKZ sedan, which rose more than threefold to 3,044.

Porsche, the Stuttgart-based automaker that’s part of Volkswagen, said deliveries rose 15 percent to a February record 3,232, as its Cayenne SUV advanced 7.4 percent to 1,260.

Land Rover’s monthly sales climbed 2.6 percent to 4,006, also a February record for the brand, while Jaguar’s rose 35 percent to 1,552, according to an e-mailed statement. The two brands are owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd.

Maserati, a unit of Turin, Italy-based Fiat SpA, said in an e-mail that it sold 837 vehicles in the U.S. in February, a gain of more than fivefold from 159 a year earlier.

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