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In the battle for luxury car dominance, BMW has managed to hold on to its place at the top of the pile, for now. Global sales rose 14.3 percent last month, to 146,843 units, on strong sales in China and global sales of the 1 Series small car (pictured). That brings BMW's sales through nine months up 8.6 percent, to 1.11 million vehicles.

Meanwhile Audi global sales increased by 12.8 percent, continuing to close in on BMW with 1.10 million vehicles sold through three quarters. Additionally, Mercedes-Benz sales rose two percent to 964,926.

Audi's impressive sales rally was not enough to overcome BMW's Chinese sales, which jumped 59.4 percent to 29,631 vehicles. BMW also benefited from strong sales of the 1 Series, which increased 51.1 percent to 25,583 units worldwide.

China has become the German automaker's largest singular market, with the United States in second. US sales of BMW's rose 3.5 percent to 26,660. Also, despite the German automobile market contracting 11 percent, BMW sales rose 9.3 percent on its home turf, to 26,021.

According to BMW brand sales chief Ian Robertson, "We expect to see further growth in worldwide sales in the fourth quarter." BMW Group sales, including Mini and Rolls-Royce, grew 11.6 percent last month to 177,716. Through nine months, global sales increased 8.3 percent to 1.33 million vehicles sold. As Audi continues to remain in BMW's rear view mirror, these final months of the year will be crucial for both automakers in the battle for the top premium brand.

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