Strong China sales helped push Daimler's Mercedes-Benz ahead of arch rival Audi in global luxury vehicle sales last year, even as BMW was expected to retain the title. Grace Pascoe reports.
Mercedes pulls ahead of Audi In global luxury vehicle sales for 2015. Daimler's Mercedes sales rose 13.4 percent to 1.87 million cars for the year. With China becoming the luxury carmaker's largest single market for the first time. VW subsidiary Audi's sales in China slumped by 1.4 per cent last year. But it still sold a new record of 1.8 million cars. Vicky Pryce of CEBR says drivers are rediscovering the love of the motorcar - through their pockets. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEBR, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "With lower emission and cheaper versions coming through which are very efficient cars people can afford them. And with the low price of oil, petrol they have to pay is lower than it used to be. And of course the extra money in people's pockets then it is the natural thing to do. And we have all benefitted from this. The UK has had record exports of cars and production of cars as a result of that too." Car sales in Western Europe rose 8.9 percent in 2015. With UK new car sales hitting an all-time high of 2.63 million car sales. Rising consumer confidence also drove the purchases. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEBR, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "We are beginning to see a resumption of consumer demand which is helping therefore both domestic sales and of course the low euro is helping exports." Troubled VW is trying to re-gain traction in the U.S. And will unveil a new a battery-powered SUV at the Detroit auto show. As for Mercedes and Audi's race to top spot: they're both expected to be beaten to the chequered flag by Germany's other luxury carmaker, BMW. It releases its figures on Monday.