* Mercedes-Benz brand Sept sales up 2.0 pct to 123,358 cars
* Mercedes-Benz brand Q3 sales rise 1.1 pct to 312,001 cars
* Growth pace drops from 11.9 pct in Q1 and 2.7 pct in Q2
* Mercedes sees further momentum in Q4 and record 2012 sales
FRANKFURT, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Daimler’s flagship premium brand Mercedes-Benz posted vehicle sales records for the month of September, the third quarter and the first nine months thanks mainly to rising demand in the United States and China.
“We are still on track to achieve a new sales record for the year as a whole. We expect further momentum in the fourth quarter, especially from our new models,” said Mercedes sales chief Joachim Schmidt in a statement on Thursday.
“In particular, the response to our new A-Class has been excellent and we already have about 70,000 orders.”
Sales in the key growth market of China rose 10 percent to 16,806 vehicles in September -- the strongest year-on-year increase since March.
Rival premium brand Audi earlier said its vehicle sales in China rose 20 percent in the month of September.
Record vehicle sales have not translated into record earnings or profit margins at Mercedes, however.
Due in part to lacklustre volumes in the once highly lucrative Chinese market, Daimler was forced to warn last month that operating profit at its Mercedes cars business should fall below 5 billion euros ($6.45 billion) in 2012 instead of achieving a roughly flat result.
Last year the division reported 5.19 billion euros and an operating margin of 9.0 percent.
During the Paris auto show, Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche even backed away from confirming next year’s 10 percent margin goal, which it had first targeted in May 2010.
Shares in Daimler slipped 0.3 percent to 37.97 euros by 1120 GMT, lagging a 0.6 percent gain in the European automotive index .