Luxury cars back in vogue as Mercedes-Benz posts record sales

Luxury cars are in demand more than ever, according to statistics released this week by some of Germany's top automakers.

Mercedes-Benz, one of the world's best known luxury auto brands, said this week that it has sold more vehicles around the world in the first half of 2011 than in any previous year, with 610,531 drivers splashing out on a car between January and June.

It says that by the end of this year, it has its sights on selling 1.3 million Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, setting an all-time sales record.

The brand also set a record for the quarter - a feat repeated by Audi USA, which sold more cars last quarter than it ever has done in the US.

With BMW also expanding its US lead ahead of both Audi and Mercedes Benz to become easily the top-selling luxury auto brand in the States this year, it seems that there is demand anew for luxury vehicles, in the US and - perhaps more importantly - around the world.

Although demand for its models in the US rose too, Mercedes-Benz says that much of its growth comes from the developing BRIC countries, and China in particular - in the first six months of this year, Chinese buyers snapped up 52 percent more models than they did last year from the German brand.

That's consistent with Audi's experiences in India, which saw sales for the first half of this year more than double to reach an all-time high, far outstripping Mercedes-Benz's growth in the country of 40.3 percent, although admittedly from a smaller base.