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Automakers BMW, Audi, Mercedes report higher sales, rising demand in U.S., Asia

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Luxury automakers BMW, Audi and Mercedes reported healthy sales increases for August on Friday, with demand from Asia and the U.S. driving gains amid mixed results in their home markets.

BMW AG, the industry's top luxury car company, said its global sales rose 13 per cent 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 per cent from a year ago. German sales rose 10.8 per cent to 19,253 cars versus last year.

For the January-August period, BMW said sales were up 7.1 per cent to 952,929 vehicles sold compared to the same period last year.

Rival Audi AG said it sold 66,400 cars worldwide in August, up 4.2 per cent from the same month in 2006. Ingolstadt-based Audi, a unit of Volkswagen AG, said it sold some 656,600 cars for the first eight months of the year, up 9.2 per cent from last year.

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

``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 per cent 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 AG, meanwhile, said its Mercedes Car Group saw sales increase 9 per cent 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 slipped to 817,600 from 818,200 a year earlier.

By brand, the group said it sold 89,100 Mercedes-Benz cars in August, up nine per cent 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 per cent from last year.

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

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

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Automakers BMW, Audi, Mercedes report higher sales, rising demand in U.S., Asia
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