FRANKFURT -- Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand extended its global sales lead over rival BMW after its August registrations increased at a faster pace.
Mercedes brand's worldwide sales rose 12 percent to 156,246 last month, while sales of BMW branded cars increased 5 percent to 142,554 vehicles. Audi trailed its German premium rivals with its August sales up 2.9 percent to 132,350.
Through August, Mercedes brand sales increased 12 percent to 1.32 million. BMW brand's sales rose 5.5 percent to 1.28 million, while Audi's volume grew 4.9 percent to 1.23 million.
The result gave Mercedes a 44,124 overall lead over BMW in August, up from 30,442 the month before.
Mercedes has benefited from the launch of its latest-generation E-class, from strong demand in China where brand sales rose 25 percent in August, and from record sales of its SUVs.
Daimler said sales of Mercedes' SUVs jumped 40 percent to a new high of 56,286 units in August, helped by the popularity of the GLA and GLC.
"Thanks to their double-digit growth rate, the SUVs once again contributed significantly to the best-ever unit sales by Mercedes-Benz this August," Ola Kaellenius, Mercedes' sales and marketing chief, said in a statement.
BMW also said strong demand for its SUVs helped to boost its sales last month. Global registrations of the X3 increased 30 percent, while sales of the X4 and X5 climbed 9.9 and 11 percent respectively.
BMW may keep the global premium top spot this year if all its brands are counted. Group sales including Mini and Rolls-Royce increased 5.5 percent to 1.50 million in the first eight months. Mini sales rose 10.3 percent to 22,575 last month and by 5.7 percent to 223,913 through August. BMW did not break out sales of Rolls-Royce models.
BMW is focusing on profitability as it invests in technology, such as self-driving features, to compete with new rivals including Uber and Tesla. It is also at a comparatively weak point in its product cycle and is preparing for next year's remake of the 5-series sedan, which competes with the Mercedes E class.
Bloomberg contributed to this report