STUTTGART -- Mercedes-Benz sales in China jumped 32 percent year on year to 48,588 vehicles in July as the German luxury brand enjoyed strong demand for its long-wheelbase E-class sedan.
Meanwhile, Audi's deliveries rose 10 percent last month from a year earlier to 51,235 vehicles as Volkswagen Group's luxury brand rebounded from a dispute with dealers that had damaged sales for months.
For the first seven months, Mercedes deliveries rose 34 percent to 341,267 vehicles while Audi sales declined 9.1 percent to 306,020.
In a written statement, Mercedes said the locally produced long-wheelbase E class "is especially popular" in China, although it did not disclose that model’s sales.
Mercedes, traditionally China’s No. 3 luxury brand by sales, has caught up to rivals BMW and Audi with a broad product range of city cars, crossovers, compact cars and long-wheelbase sedans.
Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, is preparing to invest heavily in electric vehicles. In July, Daimler announced a 5 billion yuan ($735 million) joint venture with BAIC Motor Corp. to produce battery-electric vehicles by 2020.
Meanwhile, Audi is banking on several new models this year to fuel its recovery from a dealer boycott. Audi triggered the dispute in December when it announced plans to create a new distribution network with joint venture partner SAIC Motor Corp.
Dealers affiliated with Audi’s existing network -- via its partnership with China FAW Group -- stopped ordering cars in protest. In May, the dealers dropped their boycott after Audi backed away from its proposal.
Audi is counting on several new models to continue its recovery. The German luxury brand introduced a redesigned A5 Sportback and this year plans to launch the RS3 sedan and the TT RS sport coupe.
BMW has not yet announced July sales for China.