Audi sets new sales record in March
Brand stays ahead of Mercedes in premium sales race
FRANKFURT –- Audi sold a record 143,500 vehicles globally in March, a rise of 14.1 percent from a year earlier and the most cars the company has ever sold in a single month, Audi said.
Strong demand from China helped to boost first-quarter deliveries 10.8 percent to a record 346,100.
"We entered the year 2012 very successfully and also expect continuing growth in coming months," Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi sales chief, said in a statement on Tuesday.
In March, Audi maintained its position in global premium sales ahead of Mercedes-Benz brand, which sold 131,334 cars in the same period. BMW will announce March sales on April 11.
Audi overtook Mercedes as the second-largest premium brand by sales volume last year and has surpassed BMW in terms of profitability thanks to the economies of scale it enjoys with its parent Volkswagen.
Sales in China, where Audi leads the luxury market, increased 37 percent last month to 31,505 on demand for extended versions of the A4 and A6 sedans and the Q5 sport-utility vehicle.
Audi's sales rose 4.8 percent to 25,140 in Germany last month, the automaker's No. 2 market.
Overall sales in Audi's European markets rose 7 percent to 85,550 last month, boosted by the success of the Audi Q3 SUV and the A1 sportback.
In the UK, Audi's No. 3 global market, sales rose 8.6 percent to 23,062 units in March.
In eastern Europe, Audi also saw sales rise: Russian demand rose 99.9 percent to 3,404 in year-on-year figures.
U.S. sales continued to grow last month rising 18 percent to 11,585, making it the automaker's fourth-biggest global market.
Audi is targeting annual sales of 2 million cars by 2020 as it seeks to pass BMW as the best-selling premium brand worldwide.
Last year, the automaker sold 1.3 million cars and SUVs. BMW sold 1.38 million, while Mercedes-Benz sold 1.26 million.
Reuters contributed to this report
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