MUNICH (BLOOMBERG) - Mercedes-Benz outsold Audi in the eight months through August to become the world's second-biggest luxury carmaker, as both Audi and BMW struggled to match its sales growth in China.
Mercedes delivered 1.19 million vehicles in the period, 10,880 cars more than the 1.18 million at Volkswagen AG's Audi. The Daimler AG brand last outsold Audi on an annual basis in 2010. Mercedes benefited from soaring sales of its mid-range C- Class sedan and its sport-utility vehicles and also from China, where it was the only one of the top three luxury-car makers to see sales grow in August.
China's stock market rout and cooling economic growth combined to leave customers wary of buying new cars. Passenger vehicle sales in the world's biggest auto market dropped to a 17-month low in July before gaining 0.6 per cent in August due to discounts and incentives such as subsidized insurance.
Audi has said it sees "light at the end of the tunnel" in the market and that new models will help it grow there again.
"We are preparing to step up the pace with our broad model and technology drive," Luca de Meo, Audi's sales chief, said in a statement on Thursday.
Sales at luxury leader BMW AG rose 5.5 per cent to 1.21 million at its namesake brand.
BMW delivered 135,735 cars during August, a rise of 7.6 percent, after selling more of the 1-Series compact and the X4 and X6 SUVs. Audi's sales climbed 2.7 percent to 128,650 vehicles, compared with an 18 percent leap for Mercedes to 139,802 cars.
Mercedes deliveries in China, including Hong Kong, rose 53 percent to 32,763 cars, compared with a 4.1 percent drop to 45,196 vehicles for Audi. BMW sales in mainland China declined 0.9 percent to 34,168 cars.
Both Audi and Mercedes are seeking to unseat BMW by the end of the decade from the global sales top spot the Munich-based company has held since 2005.