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Business

German luxury carmakers log record sales year

Germany's auto industry is a pillar of its export-oriented economy and in 2014, luxury carmakers there logged record sales. The figures were spurred by growth in the Chinese and US markets.

Germany's top-of-the-line carmakers all logged historic sales records in 2014, lifted by rising demand in China and the United States, the companies said in separate statements on Friday.

Munich-based BMW held onto the top spot, selling 1.81 million vehicles worldwide, or 9.5 percent more than in 2013.

Figuring in sales of its Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, the carmaker said it sold close to 2.12 million vehicles, or 7.9 more than the year before, cracking the 2 million mark for the first time. It was the company's fourth consecutive record-setting year.

High-end SUVs drove sales, with registrations of BMW's 3-series model up by 2 percent to 476,792 vehicles, while the 5-series saw sales shoot up by more than a third. Mini delivered just over 302,000 new cars in 2014, while luxury brand Rolls-Royce sold 4,000 units - the most in the firm's 111-year history.

Electrical vehicle sales continued to be sluggish, however, with just 17,800 customers opting for BMW's environmentally-friendly fleet. Nearly three-quarters of those sales occurred in the last six months of the year after the late-spring launch of the i-series in several major markets, including the US.

Audi, Mercedes clock up record sales

In a close second was Volkswagen's Ingolstadt-based Audi brand, which saw sales rise 10.5 percent to 1.74 million. Audi said it broke sales records in 50 countries, particularly in China, where it sold 17.7 percent more vehicles than in 2013 for a total of 578,932 cars.

That put Audi well ahead of the competition in China. In the US, however, it was only able to sell 182,011 vehicles - far fewer than its rivals.

Daimler's Mercedes-Benz said it too posted the best-ever sales in the company's history.

Sales of its vehicles climbed 12.9 percent, bringing the total number to 1.65 million. It was also Mercedes-Benz's fourth straight year of record sales.

"The best sales in our company's history show that our product offensive is bearing fruit," said CEO Dieter Zetsche, citing the new compact C-Class and S-Class as drivers of the soaring sales.

The German auto industry is a major pillar of the success of Europe's largest economy. Growth there has helped keep Germany's unemployment rate to only 5.0 percent - well below the 11.5 percent with which the eurozone as a whole has grappled.

cjc, pad/jr (AP, AFP)

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