MUNICH – Audi AG for the first time passed Mercedes-Benz brand in global quarterly new-car sales. The Volkswagen AG premium brand outsold Mercedes brand 264,100 to 248,500 in the first three months. For Audi, the quarterly sales result was a new company record and 25.9 percent above the same period last year.
The company's stated goal is to become the "most successful luxury automaker in the world by 2015," at which point it aims to sell 1.5 million cars a year.
Audi finished 2009 in third place behind No. 1 BMW and second-ranked Mercedes in global premium-brand new-car sales. BMW reports its global car sales later this month.
Depending on those results, there could be a new leader. At the very least Audi will hold the No. 2 spot.
Mercedes might have trouble regaining second place as the year progresses.
“We expect continued growth compared to last year in the second quarter of 2010,” Audi sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer said in a statement on Thursday.
One of the main reasons Audi pulled ahead of Mercedes is because of its dominance in China. Audi delivered 51,449 vehicles in China during the first three months of the year, twice as many as Mercedes’ 24,100 units and well ahead of BMW’s Q1 total of 34,179.
For March, Audi's worldwide sales came to 110,400 vehicles, an increase of 22.2 percent over the year-earlier period, which was when all premium automakers were hit by the global slump in demand for luxury cars.