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German Automakers Report Improved August Sales

Luxury automakers BMW, Audi and Mercedes reported healthy sales increases for August on Friday, with demand from Asia and the U.S. driving gains but with mixed results in their home markets.

BMW, the industry's top luxury car company, said its global sales rose 13% last month from a year ago, with 99,755 BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce automobiles sold.

The Munich-based automaker said its August sales were led by demand from U.S. buyers, where it sold 30,638 cars, up 19.3% from August 2006. Demand was also up in Germany, with 19,253 cars sold, up 10.8% from last year.

Since January, the car maker said sales were up 7.1% from the same time last year, with 952,929 vehicles sold.

Rival Audi said it sold 66,400 cars worldwide in August, up 4.2% from the same month in 2006. Ingolstadt-based Audi, a unit of Volkswagen, said it sold some 656,600 cars since January, up 9.2% from the comparable period last year.

The August increases came from higher demand in China, where sales rose 24% from January, while in the United States, sales increased 7.1%. Sales in Britain were up 17.8% while overall growth in Europe was 3.7%.

"Growth in European export markets, meaning both established Western European markets and new markets in Eastern Europe, is a major factor behind our success," said Ralph Weyler, who oversees the company's marketing and sales. "We are steadily and consistently increasing our market share in these regions."

But sales in Germany, Audi's home market, slipped by 7.7% last month to 18,063 cars sold. Joerg Felske, Audi's head of sales for Germany, said that decline was the result of the end of production on the company's A4 model.

DaimlerChrysler, meanwhile, said its Mercedes Car Group saw sales increase 9% in August compared to last year, reaching a record 96,200 Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and Smart brands sold.

But the results could not lift its January-August sales, which at 817,600 were still down from 818,200 a year earlier.

By brand, the group said it sold 89,100 Mercedes-Benz cars in August, up 9% from the same month a year earlier, led by demand for its new C-Class sedan and its luxury segment S-Class.

Sales of the retooled Smart fortwo doubled to 7,000 cars, a new monthly high for the two-seater, and up 4% from last year.

Demand for Mercedes Car Group vehicles was strong in Asia, where sales rose 22%, while in the United States sales edged up 2%. The company's core western European market saw sales rise 4% to 52,700 cars sold in August.

In Frankfurt, BMW shares dipped 0.4% to 44.95 euros ($61.44), Audi shares gained nearly 0.6% to 541.20 euros ($739.77) and DaimlerChrysler shares dropped more than half a percent to 67.52 euros ($92.29).