Daimler's Mercedes Posts Sales Record in March

Solid volume growth in its new range of compact cars helped propel sales of Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand upwards to 139,920 vehicles, its single highest monthly tally ever.

"We again topped the strong result of the previous year and have posted the best month in our company's history to date. We have never sold as many vehicles in a single month," Mercedes sales chief Joachim Schmidt said in a statement on Friday.

Thanks to the 6.5 percent increase last month, Mercedes marked a new record high in first-quarter car sales at 324,898 vehicles for a gain of 3.5 percent.

Although Mercedes may be growing its business, a claim many of its mass market peers cannot stake, the German premium brand has watched the gap with rivals BMW and Audi continue to grow mainly due to Mercedes problems in China.

Sales in China gained over 5 percent last month but this still left a near 12 percent decline overall for the quarter.

A key element in Daimler's strategy to retake the top spot from BMW by 2020 is the new family of Mercedes-Benz compact vehicles that include the CLA four-door coupe, which hits markets starting April 13.

Sales of its A- and B-Class compact siblings jumped 49.4 percent in the first quarter, according to Daimler.

(Reporting By Christiaan Hetzner)