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Mercedes Narrows Gap to Audi by One-Third on China Surge

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March 7 (Bloomberg) -- Mercedes-Benz slashed second-place Audi AG’s luxury-car sales lead by almost one-third in the first two months of 2014 on surging demand for its models in China.

Daimler AG’s Mercedes narrowed the gap to Audi through February to 26,647 cars and sport-utility vehicles from 36,804 a year earlier. Mercedes posted a sales gain last month of 17 percent, propelled by a 74 percent jump in China. Audi’s deliveries in February rose 6.8 percent.

“We are keeping up the high momentum of the previous months,” Ola Kaellenius, sales chief at Stuttgart, Germany-based Mercedes, said in a statement. “We have the right products at the right time.”

Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche, who has a goal for Mercedes to surpass Audi and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG to become the world’s biggest maker of luxury cars by 2020, is rolling out 30 new vehicles by the end of the decade, a dozen of which will have no predecessor. BMW, the world’s No. 1 seller of premium cars, has yet to release February sales data.

Mercedes is benefiting from demand for compact cars such as the CLA, A-Class and B-Class, as well a revamp of the flagship S-Class sedan. Mercedes also plans this year to bring out a new version of the C-Class, its best seller, and the all-new GLA compact sport-utility vehicle.

Audi’s two-month deliveries in China, including Hong Kong, jumped 13 percent, with February sales increasing 6.9 percent. European two-month demand rose 6.5 percent, including gains of 14 percent in Germany and 8.9 percent in the U.K., the Ingolstadt, Germany-based unit of Volkswagen AG said today in a statement.

“In Europe, several markets are gaining stability at what remains a low level,” Luca de Meo, Audi’s sales chief, said in the statement. “In this region, we are already scoring with the new A3 sedan, which will also be launched in China and the United States -- its two most important sales markets -- in the upcoming weeks.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Chad Thomas in Berlin at cthomas16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net Tom Lavell, Chris Reiter

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