DETROIT -- BMW AG's BMW brand last month increased its lead in the U.S. luxury automotive sales race with deliveries rising 19 percent on continued high demand for the X3 sport-utility vehicle.
Sales of the redesigned X3, which hit U.S. showrooms in January, rose to 1,853 in September from 146 a year ago, contributing to the SUV's almost four-fold increase to 19,167 so far this year, BMW said.
"It's very well received," said Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst with TrueCar.com, a Web site that tracks auto sales. "It was one of the better executed redesigns we've seen in the luxury segment in a long while."
BMW brand deliveries rose to 21,750 in September while U.S. sales of Daimler's Mercedes-Benz gained 9 percent to 21,649, Daimler said.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus, which has been the annual U.S. luxury sales leader for the past 11 years, saw September sales fall 12 percent to 14,995.
With September's results, BMW expanded its lead for the year. Sales have risen 13 percent to 177,679. Deliveries of Mercedes vehicles through September rose 6.5 percent to 170,058 in the U.S., while Lexus's year-to-date totals fell 16 percent to 135,647.
BMW improved the interior and handling of the X3 and has done well by offering monthly lease deals as low as $459 last month, Toprak said.
The results exclude Daimler's Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles.
BMW has been the monthly luxury sales leader for six straight months. In the fourth quarter, Lexus supply returns to normal and Mercedes will be at full production of its redesigned compact C-class models.
Mercedes last month began offering a two-door version of its C-class in the U.S., which Ernst Lieb, head of U.S. operations, said may increase the model's sales by 20 percent.
C-class sales rose 32 percent last month to 6,865 contributing to Mercedes best September on record, the company said.
Mercedes hasn't had a two-door version to compete against BMW's 3-series coupe. Mercedes is also out with a redesigned M-class SUV.
"There is a lot of new product that's coming into the market that's probably going to create some natural momentum beyond what we typically see," Toprak said. "Luxury sales will be outperforming the market at large in the fourth quarter."
General Motors Co.'s Cadillac luxury brand sales rose 1 percent last month to 12,741, according to the automaker.
U.S. deliveries of Volkswagen's Audi brand rose 19 percent to 9,725 vehicles last month, the company said in a statement.
Porsche sold 2,170 vehicles in the U.S., a 10 percent increase, the company said.
Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti sold 8,479 vehicles, a 2.1 percent increase from a year earlier. Honda said sales for its Acura brand fell 6.6 percent to 10,010 last month.
Ford Motor Co. sold 7,018 Lincolns in September, a 6.6 percent decrease from a year earlier, according to the automaker.
Land Rover deliveries rose 10 percent to 2,740, while Jaguar sales increased 15 percent to 1,111.