DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- BMW AG reported a 13 percent U.S. sales increase in March, cutting into the luxury-auto lead of Mercedes-Benz as both brands set records for the month.
Sales for the BMW brand rose to 27,078 vehicles last month, helped by gains for the X3 and X5 SUVs, the German automaker said in a statement. Mercedes posted a 6.5 percent increase from a year earlier to 24,646, the company said.
The March results trimmed Mercedes's 2013 lead to 4,285 cars and SUVs as the two German automakers vie for the annual sales crown that BMW has held for the past two years. BMW won last year with a December surge, based on reported sales. Measured by vehicle registrations, Mercedes topped BMW, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co.
Mercedes sales for the first quarter increased 12 percent to 69,187, a record for the three-month period, parent Daimler AG said in a statement on Tuesday. BMW's quarterly deliveries rose 5.4 percent to 64,902.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus reported a 15 percent increase for March, to 23,190, as deliveries of the ES sedan more than doubled. Lexus, which was the annual sales leader for 11 years until natural disasters in Asia curtailed 2011 output, said it sold 56,740 vehicles in the quarter for a 16 percent gain.
U.S. sales of Volkswagen AG's Audi brand rose 14 percent in March to 13,253, according to a statement. That was the brand's 27th straight month of record sales and its second-best month ever, behind December 2012. The gains included 20 percent for the A4 sedan and 39 percent for the Q5 SUV. Sales for the year rose 16 percent to 34,186, Audi's best first quarter ever.
The results don't include Daimler's cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles.