Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Frankfurt am Main — Mercedes-Benz said on Monday that it had defended its top spot as the world’s biggest luxury car maker in 2017, with a surge in sales, particularly in China, enabling it to clock up another record year.

The Stuttgart-based group reported sales of about 2.3-million cars in 2017, an increase of almost 10% on the figure for 2016 and its seventh record year in a row.

Much of the growth was attributable to Mercedes’ breakneck expansion in China, where sales grew 26%, and the ever-rising appeal of its sport utility vehciles, with the luxury four-wheel-drive vehicles accounting for more than one in three sales worldwide.

The group claimed its three-pointed star remained the top high-end car brand worldwide, after overtaking Munich-based rivals BMW in 2016.

BMW has yet to release full-year sales figures for 2017, but the latest release from November shows the group significantly lagging Mercedes.

"Success in our core business provides the basis for us to actively shape the mobility of the future," Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Mercedes parent company Daimler, said.

Like other car makers, Mercedes is investing heavily in hybrid and all-electric vehicles, as well as more efficient, less polluting traditional motors.

Manufacturers are racing to polish up their environmental credentials and meet more stringent emissions requirements.