Sales of Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach cars rose 16% in November compared with the same month a year ago to 98,400 vehicles.

Parent Daimler said that demand in many regions improved, with China showing particularly strong growth.

The company said in a statement: "The rise in sales last month was a result of double-digit increases for the E-Class and new-generation S-Class, plus strong sales growth in many regions such as western Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific."

Daimler delivered 8,700 cars in China last month - nearly triple the volume sold in November 2008. It said it expected fourth quarter sales to be significantly higher on year.

Demand for luxury cars collapsed toward the end of 2008, causing relatively low comparative figures for last year. Daimler said global sales of the new-generation E-Class doubled last month to 15,700 vehicles.

The revamped E-Class was the company's most important launch in 2009. The car is crucial for Mercedes-Benz both in terms of sales volume and revenue per car.

Mercedes sales chief Joachim Schmidt said: "Additional sales momentum will be generated over the next few weeks by the new E-Class estate [wagon], which reached dealerships in late November and has been a big hit with customers."

In the January to November period, Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach reported sales declined 11.8% year on year to 1.02m cars, following a market slump at the beginning of 2009.

The Mercedes-Benz brand posted a 19% sales rise in November to 88,600 cars although year to date (YTD) sales were down 11.6% at 914,700. Smart sales declined 3.8% in November to 9,800 cars and were down 13% to 107,000 vehicles YTD.

China is now the group's fourth biggest market. Its 8,500 sales there were on a par with rival BMW while Audi more than doubled its sales in the country compared with November last year to 16,503 cars.

Audi's sales in the January-to-November period were up 29% on year at 139,872 cars in China. The company expects China to outpace its German home turf as its largest sales region in 2012 or 2013, according to previous statements.

A BMW spokesman said sales in China were up 40% on year in November at 8,470 cars, which translates into a 37% sales rise in the January-to-November period to 80,422 cars.