AUDI car sales to overtake MERCEDES

German carmaker Audi is set to sell more vehicles worldwide than luxury rival Mercedes for the first time ever next year, according a new study released on Monday.

The University of Duisburg’s Centre of Automotive Research forecast mighty Mercedes will fall to third place after BMW and Audi, which is owned by Volkswagen, amid surging demand for fancy German cars in China.

Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, the director of the university’s centre, said Audi’s better market share in the fast-growing Asian country would allow it to overtake Daimler’s Mercedes brand for sales in 2010.

“While Mercedes will remain the German market leader in the premium segment with slightly fewer than 260,000 sold vehicles, Mercedes’ lead will melt by nearly 20,000 cars,” the study said, pointing to Audi’s increasing advantages in pricing and productivity.

The biggest factor weighing on Mercedes sales appears to be that its cars are more expensive than Audi’s.