Frankfurt, Germany — Germany's luxury carmakers had a record year in 2014 thanks to expanding sales in the United States and China.
Munich-based BMW kept hold of first place, selling 1.81 million vehicles worldwide in 2014 — an increase of 9.5 percent over 2013.
That put it ahead of Volkswagen AG's Audi brand, which increased sales by 10.5 percent to 1.74 million. Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz came in third with 1.65 million, up 12.9 percent.
BMW AG marketing chief Ian Robertson said Friday the company was able to increase sales in all important regions thanks to strong demand for new models such as the X4, the 2-Series Active Tourer and the electric i3, which uses advanced carbon-fiber materials to save weight.
At Mercedes, China overtook Germany as the brand's second-largest market behind the U.S. Sales in China rose 29.1 percent to 281,588 vehicles.
The auto industry is a pillar of Germany's export-focused economy, helping to drive unemployment down to only 5.0 percent. That is well below the figure of 11.5 percent for the euro currency union as a whole.