Germany's premium brands are defying Europe's economic crisis and increasing their vehicle sales in the region to such an extent that they are catching -- or passing -- sales of struggling volume brands.
In the first seven months, Audi outsold Fiat and Citroen in Europe.
Company executives and industry watchers say premium brands are benefiting from expanding into segments where they once had no presence, such as compact-sized cars.
Buyers are also willing to pay more for premium cars because they retain their value more than cheaper volume models.
Mercedes believes a key driver in its future growth is expanding the brand's compact car lineup to five models from two.