German premium auto maker Audi has achieved a new sales record in the first quarter of the year. The company, which is owned by Volkswagen, posted a surge in vehicle sales, particularly in China and the US.
Top-of-the-range German carmaker Audi logged record sales in the first three months of 2012, the company reported on Tuesday. It sold 346,100 units worldwide in the January through March period, up 10.8 percent compared to the previous year.
"This past quarter was the best in our history," Board Member Peter Schwarzenbauer said in a statement. "We kicked off 2012 very successfully and expect growth to continue in the months to come."
The surge in sales was mainly due to Audi's very successful operations in China, where over 90,000 units left showrooms in the first quarter of this year. It marked a 40.5-percent increase over levels reached in the same quarter in 2011.
The Ingolstadt-based auto maker said the most popular brands in China continued to be its A4L, A6L and Q5 brands as well as its Audi-SUV model. At the same time, China remained the company's most important market for its A8 luxury car, with more than 40 percent of its production going there.
Audi reported that sales were particularly strongly in March, with 143,500 cars sold to customers worldwide, a 14.5-percent rise compared to the same period the year before. The company also posted an increase in sales in Germany, where 25,140 cars changed hands - 4.8 percent more than in the same month last year.
By contrast, sales in the whole of Europe slipped 0.1 percent in the first quarter of this year, but the company said it was confident the situation would improve in the months ahead.
Audi currently employs 64,000 people worldwide, 48,000 of which work in Germany. The company plans to invest 13 billion euros ($17 billion) in new brands and production facilities.
At the moment, Audi is expanding its facility in Gyoer, Hungary. Towards the end of 2013, it will also start producing cars in Foshan, China.
hg/ng (dpa, dapd, AFP)