By Andrew Ganz
Thursday, Jan 5th, 2012 @ 12:15 pm
 
For the first time ever, BMW has has become the best-selling luxury brand in the United States, but both it and its staunch German rival Mercedes-Benz slid past Lexus.

After delaying their reporting a day to re-tally the number of cars they sold, Mercedes-Benz and BMW announced their annual sales figures for the hotly-contested United States market today.

When the dust settled, BMW emerged with 247,907 deliveries in 2011, while Mercedes-Benz checked in with 245,192.

A strong December for Mercedes-Benz resulted in 25,701 sales, a 28 percent increase, but BMW's comparatively modest 15 percent increase to 26,834 was enough to solidify a victory.

Both brands took over for Lexus, which had previously commanded an 11-year lead in the luxury segment. Beset by production and supply shortages related to the March 2011 earthquake in its home market of Japan, Lexus ended 2011 down 13 percent to 198,552.

Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz have only held the sales crown once; Mercedes-Benz was the top-selling luxury brand in 1999, after decades of battles between Lincoln and Cadillac. By comparison, Lincoln found just 85,643 buyers last year and 152,389 took home Cadillacs.