Audi sold 45,124 cars in Western Europe in January, topping its fellow German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz for the first time. Audi continues to build a premium brand that is the competitive equal of those two more established automakers.

Audi continues on the warpath and its strategy of matching and exceeding its fellow German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz in sales seems to be working.

For the first time, Audi reported sales figures for January 2009 which topped its premium brand competitors. The automaker, part of the VW Group, sold 45,124 new vehicles in Western Europe, beating both Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

It seems Audi's market share is benefiting from the slump in auto sales currently hitting the market not only in Western Europe but all over the world. For January, its market share in the region was 5.1 percent, compared with a 3.9 percent share in January 2008.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, who heads Sales and Marketing at Audi AG, believes that the age of the brand's product range is what is helping the automaker gain share in the market. Audi has one of the youngest fleets in the premium segment. Last year, it released 12 new models and for the first half of 2009 there will be 6 more.

A lead in monthly sales has been a long time coming for the Ingolstadt-based premium automaker, which has spent the past two decades creating a brand name that can match the more established ones of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Whether the image of an Audi has caught up with the prestige of either of those brands is still an open question and one difficult to quantify. But sales figures, one cannot argue against.