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Mercedes beats Audi to take second place in luxury-car sales

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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.

[MUNICH] 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 delivered 1.19 million vehicles in the period, 10,880 cars more than the 1.18 million at Volkswagen AG's Audi. The Daimler AG brand last outsold Audi on an annual basis in 2010. Mercedes profited from soaring sales of its mid-range C- Class sedan and its sport-utility vehicles and also from China, where it was the only one of the top three luxury-car makers to see sales grow in August.

"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 per cent 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 Ingolstadt, Germany-based Audi, said in a statement on Thursday.

BMW Sales Sales at luxury leader BMW AG rose 5.5 per cent to 1.21 million at its namesake brand.

BMW delivered 135,735 cars during August, a rise of 7.6 per cent, after selling more of the 1-Series compact and the X4 and X6 SUVs. Audi's sales climbed 2.7 per cent to 128,650 vehicles, compared with an 18 per cent leap for Mercedes to 139,802 cars.

Mercedes deliveries in China, including Hong Kong, rose 53 per cent to 32,763 cars, compared with a 4.1 per cent drop to 45,196 vehicles for Audi. BMW sales in mainland China declined 0.9 per cent to 34,168 cars.

Both Audi and Stuttgart, Germany-based Mercedes are seeking to unseat BMW by the end of the decade from the global sales top spot the Munich-based company has held since 2005.

BLOOMBERG