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Mercedes CLA helps widen lead in race for best-selling US luxury brand

The new sub-$30,000 model is likely to help Mercedes dethrone BMW by the end of the year.

The CLA has been Mercedes-Benz's best launch in 20 years, according to Steve Cannon, head of US sales. It is so successful, in fact, that the automaker is having difficulty filling orders.

Mercedes-Benz has issued a memo to US dealers warning them of "tight inventories and low days supply” from February through June 2014. Cannon says that dealers have reported more traffic and new faces as a result of the CLA. Sales of the of the $29,900 front-driver have been going to younger buyers as well, according to Bloomberg. The median age of CLA customers is 46, while for C-Class buyers it's 54. Customers of the brand as a whole average out at 57.

As a result, the CLA is helping Mercedes pull head of BMW in the sales figure race. M-B is seeking to dethrone BMW as the number one selling luxury brand in the US, and the CLA has given the automaker a 7,610-car lead.

It is expected that Mercedes will maintain that position through the end of 2013, giving the Stuttgart-based automaker its first top ranking since 1998. BMW has held the spot since 2012, and before that Lexus — which has said it will not chase sales with a sub-$30,000 car — topped luxury sales for 11 years straight.

Globally, however, Mercedes-Benz still trails behind Audi and BMW.

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