FRANKFURT -- Audi's global vehicle sales rose by 1.2 percent to 153,850 in May as gains in Western Europe and the U.S. offset lower volume in China.
Audi sales in China slipped 1.6 percent to 47,410 vehicles last month, the first drop in the carmaker's biggest market since February 2013.
Audi said an overall fall in luxury sales and fewer business days in the month hit Chinese sales. In addition, the next-generation A6, Audi's best-selling model in China, is due to launch shortly, an Audi spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe.
Audi’s U.S. deliveries increased by 11 percent to 18,428 in May, while Western Europe deliveries rose 1.4 percent to 64,900. Sales in Russia’s struggling market slipped 37 percent to 1,900.
Five-month global sales are up 4.3 percent to a record 744,900 cars, Audi said in a statement.
Audi expects a boost from the launch of its latest generation Q7 fullsize SUV, which will go on sale in Europe in June and is expected to launch in the U.S. early next year. "We are currently seeing a great many contrasting developments in the markets. The SUV boom is, however, a uniform global trend," Audi sales and marketing chief Luca de Meo said in the statement. "Sporty off‑roaders are growing more strongly than the market in all regions," he said.
Audi's rival, BMW, has also been hit by the slump in China's premium car market. BMW reported the first drop in Chinese sales at its core brand in over a decade as volume dropped 5.5 percent to 34,870 vehicles last month. Mercedes-Benz has so far escaped the downturn after revamping its China operations and expanding its product lineup. Mercedes' China sales rose 20 percent in May to 27,562.
Reuters contributed to this report