BMW and Audi have followed Daimler’s Mercedes with a strong start to sales in the new year.

The BMW group boosted January sales 28% to 105,177 units across its three brands.

Sales and marketing supremo Ian Robertson said: “The BMW Group has once again set itself ambitious goals for 2011 – record sales of more than 1.5m and new highs for all three brands. We want to reinforce our global position as the leading supplier of premium automobiles. We expect growth rates to remain strong over the next few months, although the pace will slow a little in the second half of the year, due to baseline effects.”

Sales of BMW brand vehicles increased 30% in January to 90,841. Mini was up 15.8% to 14,126 units. Rolls-Royce shifted 210, an increase of 141.4%.

Meanwhile rival Audi told Dow Jones it expects a strong first quarter after starting the year with a 23% jump in sales, delivering around 95,400 cars in January, up from 77,792 in January 2010.

In China, Audi’s sales increased 32% in January to 22,196 cars.

“Based on the current order situation, we expect a strong first quarter in 2011”, said Peter Schwarzenbauer, marketing and sales chief.

In all, the company expects to sell 1.2m cars in 2011.