BERLIN (Reuters) - German luxury-car brand Audi said its deliveries rose to a new record last year despite the diesel emissions scandal, although that would likely not be enough to save it from dropping into third place behind luxury rivals Mercedes-Benz <DAIGn.DE> and BMW <BMWG.DE> in global sales rankings.
The key contributor to Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> group profit increased sales of luxury cars and sport-utility vehicles to 1.87 million units from 1.80 million in 2015, a spokesman said on Saturday.
Ingolstadt-based Audi raised deliveries by 4 percent in the United States where VW's emissions test-cheating scandal broke in 2015 and reported 6.4 percent more sales in Britain, its No. 2 European market, the spokesman said, confirming figures first reported by German daily newspaper Die Welt in its Saturday edition.
Audi is due to publish official figures for December on Monday, same as parent VW. They are expected to show it has dropped into third place from second in terms of global luxury car brands.
The luxury-car maker may start selling diesel vehicles again in the U.S. after deliveries were banned in the wake of the emissions manipulations, though a decision hasn't been taken yet, Die Welt quoted sales chief Dietmar Voggenreiter as saying in an interview.
By contrast, VW's namesake brand plans to drop the technology in the U.S. as it reboots its strategy in the Americas post-dieselgate, brand chief Herbert Diess has said.
(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Victoria Bryan)