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      10-05-2011, 12:03 PM   #1
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BMW pads lead over Mercedes in battle for luxury trophy

Originally Posted by AutoNews
DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- The BMW brand last month increased its lead in the U.S. luxury automotive sales race with deliveries rising 19 percent on higher sales of 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, the automaker said Monday.

"It's very well received," said Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst with, 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 the U.S. sales of Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz gained 9 percent to 21,649, the automaker 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 sales lead for the year with a 13 percent increase to 177,679. Deliveries of Mercedes vehicles through September rose 6.3 percent to 169,862 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.

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