MUNICH -- Germany's three luxury brands posted sharp drops in their new-car sales in May, but said new models were helping slow the rate of decline.
Global sales of BMW brand were down 18.1 percent to 90,643 while Mercedes-Benz brand sales dropped 12.1 percent to 86,300 and Audi's volume fell 6.1 percent to 82,800.
BMW said the drop was more moderate than in most of the previous months and the carmaker still expects to be the top-selling luxury car brand in 2009.
"We were able to increase our market share in the premium segment in major markets such as the U.S. and Japan over the previous month," Ian Robertson, BMW sales and marketing chief, said in a statement. "That puts us right on track to maintain our position as the world's No. 1 premium manufacturer in terms of sales volume in 2009."
The carmaker says its new BMW Z4 is off to an excellent start with 2,365 customer deliveries since its launch on May 9. The new BMW 7 series also is selling well with sales up 1.5 percent to 3,370 in May.