BERLIN Germany's Audi (VOWG_p.DE) and BMW (BMWG.DE) sold fewer vehicles in January than luxury rival Mercedes-Benz, which has benefited from a continued surge in Chinese demand for its compact cars and sport-utility vehicles (SUV).
Volkswagen's flagship division Audi and BMW, the world's biggest luxury carmaker, on Wednesday both posted single-digit gains in Chinese deliveries, which are dwarfed by the 52 percent jump at Mercedes (DAIGn.DE) reported last week.
Global sales at Audi, which slipped behind Mercedes last year for the first time since 2010, rose 4 percent from year-ago levels to a record 143,150 cars, the automaker said, powered by redesigned versions of its top-selling A4 saloon and the flagship Q7 SUV.
Munich-based BMW posted a 7.5 percent increase to 133,883 cars at its core brand and predicted the "positive trend" to continue through 2016 despite volatility in many markets such as Russia, Brazil and China.
Mercedes, which has reported a 20 percent increase in January sales to 150,814 cars, has benefited from surging demand for its new C-Class midsized saloon and expects further tailwind this year from the launch of a new E-Class model.
"Mercedes still has the strongest product momentum and should come out on top of global sales rankings at the end of 2016," Hamburg-based M.M. Warburg analyst Marc-Rene Tonn said, citing the brand's comeback in China.
(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Maria Sheahan)