Vehicle sales across the globe are down, with numbers in major markets like the U.S. and Japan down to their lowest levels decades. However, for a select few companies at the very highest levels of the industry, sales are just fine - in fact, better than ever for some. Mercedes' AMG division is among the latter group, with 2008 proving to be the best year on record for the Affalterbach tuner.

Despite the troubles of parent company Mercedes Benz, which only managed to maintain sales at 2007 levels, business at the AMG division is bustling. Sales for the performance brand managed to increase by 19%, with 24,200 vehicles rolling out of showrooms last year. Parts sales and special equipment also served to boost the bottom line, with sales numbers up 73% for AMG sports packages alone.

As in previous years, the U.S. was the strongest market for AMG with a share of 38% of total sales. Germany came in second place (13%), followed by Japan (8%). The greatest growth markets of 2008 include amongst others China and Brazil with rates of increase of 260% and 565% respectively.

The 661hp (493kW) SL65 Black Series, one of AMG's most tantalizingly attractive cars, has managed to bring in new customers to showrooms since it went on sale in November. Though it isn't a major contributor to the overall sales volume, it's cars like it that drive the AMG reputation, earning sales of more affordable AMG models, like the more humble C63.

The C63, incidentally, made a considerable contribution to the success of 2008 with 8,100 vehicles delivered. This makes it the highest selling AMG model of all time.

AMG's upturn in business since 1999 has been dramatic, rising from 5,000 cars per year in sales to over 20,000 every year since 2003.