Mercedes tops BMW to extend U.S. luxury lead

Mercedes-Benz reported a 22 percent surge in U.S. sales last month, building on its early lead as it tries to unseat BMW as the leader in luxury-auto deliveries this year.

Mercedes said today it delivered 22,040 vehicles last month, its best February, helped by sales of the C-class sedan, which rose 39 percent to 7,302. BMW-brand sales increased 0.5 percent to 21,311 vehicles, boosted by a 22 percent gain for its X5 SUV. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus rose 3.9 percent to 17,339, led by the RX SUV, which gained 20 percent to 6,938 deliveries.

The two German automakers are vying to be the top luxury-auto brand in the U.S. after outselling Lexus the past two years. BMW vaulted to its second consecutive U.S. luxury crown with a December surge, based on reported sales. When measured by vehicle registrations, Mercedes topped BMW, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co.

"We're just carrying the momentum that we brought from last year into this year," Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, said in an interview today. "We haven't even gotten to any of our new products yet."

For the first two months, sales of Mercedes vehicles gained 16 percent to 44,541. BMW's 2013 deliveries have increased 0.6 percent to 37,824. Lexus rose 16 percent to 33,550.

The sales results don't include Daimler's cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles. Lexus was the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. for 11 years until natural disasters in Asia curtailed production in 2011.

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