Audi sales fell 28.6% year on year in January to about 56,200 cars, the German automaker said today.

However, the company said that in the midst of sharply declining markets, its further expanded its market shares in Germany as well as western Europe and the US.

“This year won’t be easy for anyone. At Audi, our strategy remains expansive: In the first six months alone we’ll bring six new models onto the market,” said sales and marketing head Peter Schwarzenbauer. “Our young product range has been well received in comparison with our competitors – this is proven by our growing market shares.”

Audi said that the decline in sales last month reflected both lacklustre consumer confidence and strong sales last year. In January 2008 the new generation of the highest-volume model – the A4 sedan – was available throughout Europe for the first time.

In January 2009, sales in Europe were 31.2% below last year’s levels across all model lines, with around 37,700 vehicles sold.

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The decline in the US to 4,722 was a 26.4% drop. In the Asia-Pacific region, the brand sold around 10,400 cars, 22% fewer than last year.

However, market share in Germany rose to 7.8% from 6.7%. Audi’s share of the US premium car market rose by 0.5 percentage points to 7.2%. In western Europe, its share rose to around 5%, according to current projections, up from last year’s 3.9%.

The brand also grew in absolute numbers in some markets. Audi Australia, for example, reported an increase of 5.5% to 1,081 units sold. In India (109 units, up 94.6%) as well as in the Middle East (510 units, up 0.2%), more customers purchased cars than in the same month last year.