FRANKFURT – Audi's global sales rose 0.8 percent to 96,100 cars in January, as strong markets in the U.S and China offset weak demand in Europe where consumers continue to shun big-ticket purchases amid the threat of recession.
Despite the modest rise in sales last month, the automaker is confident of growth this year.
"Even though the headwinds in some European markets have strengthened noticeably of late, the signs continue to point to growth for Audi,'' Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi's head of marketing and sales, said in a statement on Thursday.
In January, Audi maintained its position as the second best-selling global premium brand behind BMW, which sold 96,183 cars in the same period, just 83 more than Audi. Mercedes sold 86,921 units last month.
In China (including Hong Kong), Audi's biggest market, the automaker sold 22,206 cars in January, a rise of 22.6 percent in year-on-year figures.
Audi's sales dropped 2.3 percent in Germany last month to 13,067 units as Europe's biggest economy and Audi's No. 2 market, continued to feel the effects of the sovereign debt crisis sweeping the region.
Overall European sales for the luxury brand dropped 13 percent to 45,900 in the first month.
The UK, which is the second-biggest single European market for Audi and the brand's fourth-largest global market, saw sales plummet 13.1 percent to 8,565 last month.
There was some good news in the shape of U.S. sales, which grew 19.7 percent in January to 9,354 cars, making it the automaker's third-biggest global market.
Sales in the U.S. were lifted by strong demand for the A6 sedan and A7 sportback, attracting many first-time Audi customers, the automaker said.
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.