Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's BMW brand outsold Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz last month, expanding its lead as the top-selling luxury auto brand in the US so far this year.
BMW's US sales, helped by deliveries of the new five Series sedan and sport-utility vehicles, rose 13 per cent last month to 21,637 compared with a year earlier, the Munich-based carmaker said last week in a statement.
Mercedes sales rose 13 per cent to 20,652 in June while deliveries by Toyota's Lexus fell 38 per cent to 10,773, as the Japanese make lacked inventory following the March 11 earthquake that disrupted manufacturing.
After six months of sales, BMW looks poised to outsell Lexus in the US for a calendar year for the first time since 1997.
BMW's sales through June rose 13 per cent to 113,705.
Deliveries of Stuttgart, Germany-based Mercedes vehicles rose seven per cent to 110,926 in the US while Lexus's fell 18 per cent to 88,010. Lexus has been the top-selling luxury car brand in the US on an annual basis for the past 11 years.
"They're too far behind now to catch up," Jim O'Donnell, head of BMW's US operations, said yesterday of Lexus in a telephone interview.
Last year, Toyota finished 9,216 sales ahead of BMW to be the top selling luxury brand in the US for the 11th straight year.
Mercedes finished in third place. The results exclude Daimler's Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles.
The German brands have duked it out for years in the US market. BMW has outsold Mercedes since 2001. The narrowest lead came in 1997 when BMW delivered 202 more vehicles than Mercedes did, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
"There is very good momentum" for BMW, said Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst with Truecar.com, a website that tracks car sales.
"I don't know if Benz will be able to catch up."
O'Donnell expects the brand's sales to increase 12.5 per cent this year, helped by a redesigned five Series sedan and X3 sport-utility vehicle, he said.
BMW's sales in the second half of the year will benefit from the introduction of another version of the five Series, the 528i xDrive, he said.
"That used to account for 25 per cent of our five Series sales, so that will be a big lift for us in the last quarter," O'Donnell said.
Mercedes deliveries last month were helped by the redesigned E-Class, sales of which rose 19 per cent, and M-Class, up 45 per cent, the company said.
An updated version of the C-Class will be introduced in September, further boosting sales, Ernst Lieb, head of Mercedes's US unit, said Friday in a telephone interview.
"We get full availability really in the last quarter and we think it's going to be really good sales for us," he said.