Mercedes jumps Audi as world's second-largest premium automaker

Mercedes-Benz has passed Audi to become the second-best selling premium car brand for the first half of 2010, according to reports released in the last week.

Mercedes posted a 13 percent rise in global sales for the month of June, enough to push it past Audi's year to date sales, despite Audi having held the second spot in global sales by a whisker for the first five months of the year.

Both automakers trail fellow German marque BMW, which sold 585,755 units in the first half of 2010 according to Automotive News.

Mercedes says that its sales success is down to a strong performance from its E and S-class vehicles and rapid growth in China, where Mercedes-Benz is the fastest-growing premium brand.

In June, Chinese sales grew by 177 percent, from 4,900 vehicles in 2009 to 13,700 last month.

Despite being in third place, Audi also says that it has had a record-breaking 2010 in China, delivering over 100,000 vehicles in the first six months of the year for the first time ever.

However, the news is likely to be a blow to Audi, which aims to be the best selling premium brand in the world by 2015.

It is set to introduce two models this year, the new A1 and A8, whilst BMW will launch an all-new 5-series and new 3-series coupe.

Mercedes, with no new introductions to boost sales this year, will need to continue its strong sales in China to hang onto second place for full year sales.

The world's favorite premium car brands
Data from Automotive News

1. BMW (585,755 sales)
2. Mercedes-Benz (556,700 sales)
3. Audi (554,950 sales)