German automakers say good times roll on

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Sales by German luxury car makers maintained solid momentum in April with activity in China and other emerging markets posting strong growth rates while some mature markets also delivered double-digit results.

BMW, the world's leading premium auto manufacturer, said on Monday that its overall sales gained an annualised 17.9 percent and that it was on track to sell more than 1.5 million vehicles this year, which would be a new record.

Sales of BMW brand cars were 14.8 percent higher at 113,078 vehicles, a statement said, as sports utility vehicles like the new X3 model attracted buyers despite high fuel prices.

BMW's Mini brand reported an increase of 34.5 percent to 23,839 vehicles, and the ueber-luxurious Rolls-Royce brand saw a jump of 115.9 percent to 458 units.

"We are on our way to achieve a 2011 sales volume of well over 1.5 million units, a new all-time high, with the BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands all achieving new sales volume records," sales director Ian Robertson said.

At Audi, a premium brand owned by Volkswagen, April sales gained 13.2 percent to 109,400 vehicles and "the current order position means we're well on our way to our target of selling 1.2 million vehicles this year," sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer said.

Daimler said last week that it sold 7.7 percent more Mercedes-Benz cars in April, for a total of 100,703 vehicles.

Daimler's city car Smart also posted a modest rise of 3.2 percent to 9,341 units, which was good news for the struggling brand.

China and other emerging markets like those in Brazil, India, Russia, South Korea and Turkey posted "impressive" growth rates, Robertson said, citing in particular a jump of 67.2 percent in mainland China to 12,440 units.

The group's US sales gained 18 percent to 31,491 vehicles, meanwhile.

Audi highlighted a leap of 30.1 percent in eastern Europe, a jump of 20.5 percent in France, and said sales doubled in India, to 1,986 autos.

© 2011 AFP

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