Audi passes BMW for the third time in July image

Volkswagen Group’s Audi outsold its BMW competitor for the third time in the last seven months in July, but still trails the premium manufacturer champion on the annual overall.

On Thursday, BMW said its core brand sales rose 13.5% in July to 128,594 vehicles, compared with Audi’s 9.8% gain to 131,300 units. BMW’s global deliveries also fell behind Audi’s in the months of January and April, but has a year-to-date sales lead over Audi, which contributed about 40% of VW’s 3.43 billion-euro ($4.57 billion) group profit in the second quarter.

BMW’s annual lead in 2013 totals 122,000 agains Mercedes, although the Stuttgart based company reported last week a 20% increase in sales to 116,790 cars. Audi passed Mercedes-Benz in 2011, becoming world’s no.2 premium car manufacturer and they both aim to surpass BMW until the end of the decade.

“The three premium makers are closing ranks,” said Frankfurt-based Commerzbank analyst Sascha Gommel, accrediting the strongest momentum to Mercedes thanks to a raft of new models. “The battle is heating up.”

Registrations of new cars in Germany rose 2.1% to 253,146 vehicles last month, the Federal Motor Transport Authority said on Wednesday, a sign that might bring the hope that Europe’s No. 1 sales region may be headed for recovery.