FRANKFURT -- Audi posted record first-half global car sales thanks to strong demand for the A3 and A8 models, the company said on Monday.
In the first six months of 2004, deliveries of Audi-brand vehicles rose 0.6 percent to 389,970 units worldwide.
June sales, however, fell 2.2 percent to 67,730 units, according to a spokesman for Audi.
The brand's A3 compact and A8 limousine performed particularly well in the first half of the year, as deliveries rose 28.6 percent for the A3 and 32.3 percent for the A8.
By contrast, sales of Audi's smallest model, the A2 subcompact, declined by 22.1 percent in the year to June.
Deliveries to Britain rose 9.2 percent to 41,805 vehicles, allowing it to overtake the United States as Audi's largest export market. U.S. deliveries fell 7.6 percent.
Audi reported a slight decline in China sales of 1.3 percent to 29,028 units.
"Audi is the supporting pillar for Volkswagen," an equity analyst at a German-based bank said Monday. "The figures weren't absolutely fantastic, but they certainly weren't below expectations."
Volkswagen does not break down individually the earnings of its various brands, but Audi is known to be one of Volkswagen's most lucrative businesses.
Operating profit at the Audi brand car group, which also includes VW's SEAT and Lamborghini brands, totalled 1.1 billion euros ($1.36 billion) in 2003, contributing the highest absolute amount to the VW group.
Due to sizeable operating losses at the VW brand and VW's commercial vehicle unit, the Audi brand group was the only industrial division at VW to post a first-quarter operating profit this year. Earnings rose slightly to 248 million euros from 232 million in the year before.