With Mercedes leading the way for luxury automakers, German car companies sold 1.33 million vehicles in the U.S. in 2013.

Last year, German car manufacturers posted record sales in the North American market with 1.33 million light vehicles – an increase of 5% compared with 2012. The jump lagged the overall market’s performance, which rose 8% on a year-over-year basis. The U.S. market came in at 15.5 million units in 2013.

Compared with 2009, in the middle of the financial crisis, the U.S. sales have grown nearly 50%.

German makers saw their light vehicles sales increased even more by 75% to 1.33 million units, of which 20% were built in the U.S.

The passenger car sales expanded by more than 3% to 951,700 units while light truck sales rose by 9% to 376,100 units. This means that last year one in eight new passenger cars sold in the U.S. has a German badge.

Matthias Wissmann, president of the VDA, the German association of the automotive industry, said this morning at a press conference in Detroit, that during those crisis years, the German automotive industry did not make the mistake of underestimating the importance of the American market.

“Our companies consistently expanded their activities in the U.S. The long term strategy is paying off.”

The companies elected not to cut investments in research and development, instead pumping 2.2 million into R&D. They also strengthened their financial positions while keeping qualified employees, in order to be able to quickly start up again.

(Volkswagen recommits to 1-million unit sales by 2018 pledge. For more, Click Here.)

Currently German automakers employ nearly 31,000 people at their U.S. plants. That means that one out of 6 jobs in the U.S. automotive plants is with either BMW in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tenn. Starting in 2016, Audi will build its Q5 in a new plant in Mexico.

One in five German-branded cars sold here comes from a U.S. plant. With a 16% share of German passenger car exports, the U.S. is the second-largest export market after the United Kingdom. Exports rose in 2013 by some 9% to 20 billion euro.

(Click Here to see how the Baby Benz is growing up.)

“We are optimistic about the US market in 2014,” Wissmann said. “We expect an increase of 3% of the light vehicle market, getting close to 16 million units, or even more. The German car industry has set the target of significant growth on its second important market as well.”

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