For the first time ever, Audi has managed to outsell Mercedes-Benz in global sales for the first quarter of 2010. Some of the European press are treating it like the fourth horseman of the apocalypse, but before we break out our Mayan calendars and go all 2012 on you, here are the hard numbers: Audi sold 264,100 vehicles worldwide between January and March while Mercedes sold 248,500 units over the same time period. For what it's worth, BMW has yet to release its final first-quarter sales figures.

Audi has repeatedly signaled its desire and intent to become the world's leading luxury car brand by 2015, which would mean passing both of its German rivals, the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz and BMW, along with Japanese automaker Lexus. Plus, Audi offers a pretty compelling lineup of vehicles with which to do battle with those formidable competitors.

According to Autocar, the biggest single contributor to Audi's passing of Mercedes-Benz is the Chinese market, where Audi sells twice as many vehicles per year as Mercedes-Benz. In fact, one out of every five Audis built is sold in China. Considering how rapidly the Chinese market is expanding, Audi is certainly finding itself in an enviable position. Time will tell if it's able to maintain that growth in the face of constant pressure from its German and Japanese rivals.

[Source: Autocar]