BMW global sales have overtaken Mercedes-Benz sales this year, making BMW the largest global premium brand, according to German automotive industry publication Automobilwoche.

Michael Ganal, member of the BMW board responsible for sales and marketing, is forecasting BMW Group sales of 1.317m in 2005, up from 1.208m in 2004.

In the first three quarters of the year BMW brand sales were up 11% and Mini sales were up 12%.

The newspaper expects Mercedes Car Group to finish this year with sales slightly up on 2004’s 1.23m units, having recorded 1% growth in the year to the end of September.

Audi is also growing, and its sales director, Ralph Weyler, is expecting to record a sales level of around 840,000 units in 2005. In the first three quarters its sales were up 11%. Weyler expects the Audi brand to break the one million unit sales barrier by 2007/8, Automobilwoche said.

Both BMW and Audi are expecting much of their future growth to come from emerging markets, particularly China where they are both expanding their sales network.

Audi is in the process of taking control of its 140 outlets in China away from its cooperation partner FAW, in a bid to improve quality, while BMW is increasing its outlets from the current 46 to around 60 by year-end.