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For the last seven years, BMW has had a stranglehold on the top spot in the luxury car market. That reign is in danger of coming to and end, as Audi sales are on the rise. According to an Automotive News Europe report, Audi cut the difference in sales between itself and BMW to only 2,110 vehicles sold so far this year.

Analysts point to the growth of the A-class vehicle segment, and Audi's established presence in that market in the form of the A3. Bolstered by products like the redesigned A3, Audi sold 108,100 total units in the month of August, compared to BMW's 102,730.

This time last year, BMW had a lead of more than 40,000 on Audi. But The upstart from Ingolstadt is finally seeing tangible results of a 20 billion ($25.6 billion) investment in research and development by the Volkswagen Group. Since 2003, the luxury brand has doubled its vehicle portfolio, adding the Q7, Q5, and R8, and new vehicles such as the A1 subcompact and Q3 compact crossover.

Audi overtook Mercedes-Benz in 2011, leaving only BMW in its sights. According to the report, Audi's intent is to supplant BMW as the top premium brand by the year 2020.

Another factor in Audi's success has been its sales in China, where BMW hasn't been quite so quick to develop a strong market presence.

With 961,000 vehicles sold through eight months, Audi could very likely eclipse its 2011 sales totals of 1.3 million units. Will it be enough to surpass BMW? Only time will tell.

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