Mercedes closes gap with Audi by one-third on China sales surge

New models such as the GLA, seen here at the Geneva auto show, will help boost Mercedes' sales this year.
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BERLIN (Bloomberg) -- Daimler's Mercedes-Benz slashed second-place Audi's luxury-car sales lead by almost one-third in the first two months of 2014 on surging demand for its models in China.

Through February, Mercedes was 26,647 sales behind Audi compared with 36,804 during the same period last year.

Mercedes posted a sales gain last month of 17 percent, propelled by a 74 percent jump in China. Audi's deliveries in February rose 7 percent.

"We are keeping up the high momentum of the previous months," Ola Kaellenius, Mercedes sales chief, said in a statement. "We have the right products at the right time."

Audi's two-month deliveries in China, including Hong Kong, jumped 13 percent, with February sales increasing 7 percent. European two-month demand rose 7 percent, including gains of 14 percent in Germany and 9 percent in the UK, Audi said today in a statement.

"In Europe, several markets are gaining stability at what remains a low level," Luca de Meo, Audi's sales chief, said in the statement. "In this region, we are already scoring with the new A3 sedan, which will also be launched in China and the United States -- its two most important sales markets -- in the upcoming weeks."

Mercedes is benefiting from demand for compact cars such as the CLA, A class and B class, as well a revamp of the flagship S-class sedan. Mercedes also plans this year to bring out a new version of the C class, its global best seller, and the all-new GLA compact SUV.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, who has a goal for Mercedes to surpass Audi and BMW to become the world's biggest maker of luxury cars by 2020, is rolling out 30 new vehicles by the end of the decade, a dozen of which will have no predecessor.

BMW, the world's No. 1 seller of premium cars, has yet to release February sales data.

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