(Bloomberg) -- Mercedes-Benz outsold Audi in the eight months through August to become the world's second-biggest luxury-car maker, as both Audi and BMW struggled to match its sales growth in China.
Mercedes brand delivered 1.19 million vehicles in the period, 10,880 cars more than the 1.18 million at Audi. The Daimler unit last outsold Audi on an annual basis in 2010. Mercedes profited from soaring sales of its mid-range C class model and its SUVs and also from China, where it was the only one of the top three luxury-car makers to see sales grow in August. Sales at luxury leader BMW rose 5.5 percent to 1.21 million, the company said today.
"We expect Mercedes to overtake Audi this year and stay ahead for the next two," said Marc-Rene Tonn, a Hamburg-based analyst with Warburg Research. "In China, Mercedes is benefiting from having two key models do well, the long version of the C class and the GLA. The positive effect of those two is set to last for the time being."
China's stock market rout and cooling economic growth combined to leave customers wary of buying new cars. Passenger vehicle sales in the world's biggest auto market dropped to a 17-month low in July before gaining 0.6 percent in August due to discounts and incentives such as subsidized insurance.
Audi has said it sees "light at the end of the tunnel" in the market and that new models will help it grow there again. "We are preparing to step up the pace with our broad model and technology drive," Luca de Meo, sales chief for Audi, said in a statement on Thursday.
BMW delivered 135,735 cars during August, a rise of 7.6 percent, after selling more of the 1-series compact and the X4 and X6 SUVs.
Audi's sales climbed 2.7 percent to 128,650 vehicles, compared with an 18 percent leap for Mercedes to 139,802 cars.
Mercedes deliveries in China rose 53 percent to 32,763 cars, compared with a 4.1 percent drop to 45,196 vehicles for Audi. BMW sales in China declined 0.9 percent to 34,168 cars.
Both Audi and Mercedes are seeking to unseat BMW by the end of the decade from the No. 1 global sales position that it has held since 2005.