Mercedes, Audi sales top new records in 2015


Frankfurt (AFP)

German top-of-the-range carmakers Audi and Mercedes-Benz on Friday reported record sales in 2015, even holding their own in China despite difficult market conditions.

Mercedes-Benz, flagship brand of Daimler, said it sold 1.872 million vehicles worldwide last year, an increase of 13.4 percent over the previous year.

Rival Audi, the high-end brand of embattled auto giant Volkswagen, said it sold 1.803 million cars, up 3.6 percent year-on-year.

"Last year, we sold more cars than ever before," said Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche.

"We were able to increase our unit sales in all three core regions -– Europe, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and Asia-Pacific. And with 373,459 units sold, China developed into our biggest individual market worldwide in 2015. With growth there of 32.6 percent, Mercedes-Benz grew significantly faster than the overall automobile market," Zetsche said.

Daimler said Mercedes-Benz launched more than 15 new or updated models in China last year, where it also expanded the dealer network to approximately 500 dealerships.

Local production capacities were also expanded.

At Audi, which has been affected by the massive pollution-cheating scandal that has engulfed its parent company VW, sales growth was more modest.

"2015 has proved that Audi is solidly on track and that we are able to master a year that presented various challenges very successfully," said chief executive Rupert Stadler.

In China, Audi's sales slipped by 1.4 percent to 570,889, but the level was still "very high," Stadler insisted.

"Over the course of the next months, (we) will introduce various new models throughout our Chinese product portfolio: by the summer of 2016, successors will be launched for models that represent around 60 percent of total Audi sales in China," Audi said.