Angela Merkel and Dieter Zetsche

Luxury German carmaker Mercedes-Benz said on Friday it had achieved record sales in 2012, driven by accelerating growth in China and the United States.

About 1.3 million Mercedes-Benz cars were purchased in 2012, the firm said in its annual sales release, a gain of 4.7 percent on the previous year.

With 274,134 cars sold in the United States (a gain of 11.8 percent), this overtook Germany (261,084 cars sold) as Mercedes-Benz’s main sales market.

Nearly 200,000 Mercedes were sold in China, a gain of 1.5 percent, the firm added.

However, the wider Daimler company has suffered from a difficult environment for the auto industry and was forced to cut its full-year forecasts in October after a disappointing third quarter.

Update

German carmakers BMW and Audi said Thursday they raced ahead to new sales records in 2012, with growth driven primarily by demand outside Europe.

BMW said in a statement that it sold a total 1.845 million vehicles last year, an increase of 10.6 percent over 2011, while rival Audi, a unit of Volkswagen, was able to lift its sales by 11.7 percent to 1.455 million units.