FRANKFURT -- Audi new-car sales rose 14.9 percent to 108,100 last month, a record for August that helps narrow the gap in eight-month sales with the best-selling premium brand BMW.
Through August, BMW delivered 963,110 vehicles, a rise of 7.8 percent and just 2,110 more than Audi, which sold 961,000, a rise of 12.7 percent. The Mercedes brand sold 841,567 in the same period, a rise of 5.4 percent.
Assuming their respective sales growth rates for the eight months through August stay constant, the BMW brand would still outsell Audi by around 20,000 cars this year.
But Audi's dominance in China and the European launch of its high volume compact, the A3 hatchback, at the end of last month, could favor Volkswagen's premium unit.
In a statement today, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler forecast sales of the new A3 over its entire lifecycle would outstrip significantly the 1.877 million sold of the previous generation.
This is of crucial importance to Volkswagen Group, since the A3 will be one of the highest volume cars derived off its new MQB development and production architecture, which also underpins the new Golf and which should drastically reduce production costs and manufacturing time.
"New models like the A3 and the refreshed Q5 [SUV model] that also launches in the coming days, will strengthen Audi in Europe even more," said Luca de Meo, the brand's new marketing and sales chief in the statement.
Audi said demand for its vehicles rose in all its major markets, including Europe where the overall auto market is going through a slump due to the region's economic woes.
China, Audi's single largest market, continued to power demand for the marque, boosting volumes by 24.0 percent last month to 34,800 and accounting for one out of three Audis sold worldwide. This contributed to a combined eight-month sales tally of 261,548, a rise of 33.1 percent
Overall sales in Audi's European market rose 8.0 percent to 47,800 last month, defying a downturn in consumer confidence caused by the euro-zone crisis. In the first eight months, sales rose 3.6 percent to 501,900.
Deliveries in Audi's biggest European market, Germany, were up 9.0 percent in July to 20,180 and by 7.9 percent to 178,065 over eight months.
In the UK, the automaker grew sales 14.7 percent to 4,144. Since the beginning of the year, sales in Audi's fourth-biggest market have risen 5.4 percent to 79,204.
Audi sales in Russia for the month increased 47.9 percent to 2,972.
In the United States, the brand's third-biggest market, volume jumped 13 percent to 11,527. Eight-month sales rose 17.5 percent to 75,256.
Last month, global demand for BMW-branded vehicles rose 8.3 percent to 102,730, behind Audi, but ahead of the Mercedes' brand, which trailed both its rivals with sales of 91,316, a rise of 4.5 percent.
Last year, BMW brand sold 1.38 million cars and SUVs. Audi sold 1.3 million units, while the Mercedes brand sold 1.26 million vehicles.
Reuters contributed to this report