The BMW brand's global sales volume is up 19.2 percent for the first five months of 2011 compared to the same period last year.

BMW is leading the 2011 race for the best-selling global premium brand, breezing past its fellow German rivals with a 19 percent increase in sales for the month of May.

The BMW brand sold 121,168 vehicles worldwide in May while Audi sold 113,400 and Mercedes-Benz 108,766 units.

Audi too saw its May 2011 sales rise by 19.5 percent over the same period last year but that wasn't enough to catch its arch-competitor BMW and Audi has to settle for second place.

For the first five months of 2011, the BMW brand holds the lead in global sales with a total of 555,429 units sold, an increase of 19.2 percent over the same period last year. The Bavarian brand's volume was boosted by fresh and popular products such as the X1 compact SUV, the X3 SUV and the 5-Series.

Audi sold 535,400 units for 2011 up to the end of May, up 17.5 percent over 2010. Mercedes-Benz sold a total of 490,021 units for the first five months of 2011, a rise of 10.5 percent over 2010.

The news is good for the German auto industry as a whole, with very healthy rises in sales for all three of the country's top premium brands. But BMW is the automaker making the best of the friendly global environment, especially in China, where its May sales were up an amazing 51.1 percent over last year.