For the first time in more than a decade, Daimler AG’s Mercedes has wrangled the pole position from BMW selling over 80 000 more cars around the world than its bitter arch rival.

Over the course of last year, Mercedes-Benz grew sales by 11,3% selling 2, 083 million cars compared to the 5,2% growth recorded by BMW which sold 2, 003 million cars for the year.

VW’s Audi brand came in third with sales volumes growing by 3,8% for 2016 to 1,87 million cars.

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The group’s comeback in the global luxury car market has largely been driven by a turnaround strategy focused on technological distinction and autonomous driving following its breakup from Chrysler in 2007, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told Reuters.

“We had some deficits, cost and quantity problems. Design was not top-notch and with Chrysler, we were no longer a pure premium carmaker,” he was quoted saying.

Mercedes has done well to capture the upwardly mobile younger market with sporty redesigns and a wider range of crossover SUVs that appeal to both men and women and scream ‘I have arrived!’

Mercedes’ strongest growth market came from China, with sales spiking by 26,6% over the year, followed by Europe at 12,4%.

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The Germany automakers cars were seemingly not as well received in the US – a market which is notorious for the love of their own local vehicles – where the group’s car sales grew marginally at 0,8%.

Mercedes’ biggest draw cards were its SUVs, exceeding 700 000 global sales, followed by its latest easy on the eye compact cars selling just under 637 000 cars worldwide.

Mercedes’ impressive feat comes three years ahead of Zetsche’s 2011 forecast that the group would become the top selling luxury car brand in 2020.

Additional reporting by Reuters