(Bloomberg) -- BMW sales surged 39 percent in December, powered by the 5-series car line, helping it top Mercedes-Benz in U.S. luxury-brand sales for the second consecutive year.
Sales for BMW increased to 37,399 vehicles last month, boosted by a 72 percent gain for its midsize 5 series. Mercedes reported a 9.5 percent increase from a year earlier to 28,145, helped by sales of the E-class sedan, which rose 32 percent to 6,984. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus rose 21 percent to 30,607.
December's sales vaulted BMW past Mercedes, which held a 1,849-vehicle lead through November. BMW finished 2012 with 281,460 vehicles sold, topping Mercedes-Benz by 7,326.
The two German automakers were vying to be the top luxury-auto brand in the United States after outselling Lexus last year. Lexus was the nation's top-selling luxury brand for 11 years until natural disasters in Asia curtailed vehicle production in 2011.
"The post-recession sales momentum that started in 2010 reached an unprecedented level in December, making us strongly confident and optimistic as we enter 2013," Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America, said in a statement.
BMW's U.S. sales rose 14 percent for 2012. Mercedes's 2012 U.S. sales rose 12 percent to 274,134, not counting Sprinter vans. In 2011, BMW topped Mercedes in the United States by 2,715 vehicles. Lexus's U.S. sales totaled 244,166 vehicles in 2012, a 23 percent gain from a year earlier and its highest volume since 2008.
In addition to the Sprinter cargo vans, the sales tallies in this story don't include Mercedes parent Daimler AG's Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles.
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