The economic climate in Europe may be sub-optimal, but that hasn’t stopped German luxury automakers from posting record worldwide sales in 2012. Buoyed by this success, BMW is already predicting it will sell more vehicles in 2013 than it did in 2012 according to Automotive News Europe (subscription required).

That’s somewhat of a lofty goal, considering that BMW outsold its luxury rivals in 2012 and set a new sales record in the process. Counting only BMW vehicles (excluding MINI and Rolls-Royce), the German automaker saw an 11.6 percent increase in sales last year, delivering some 1,540,085 vehicles.

Audi did an admirable job of closing the gap on BMW last year, posting an 11.7 percent growth in worldwide sales. Total units delivered globally numbered 1,455,100, which represents an increase of over 152,000 vehicles form Audi’s 2011 sales.

In third place was Mercedes-Benz, which posted a 4.7 percent growth in 2012 and achieved unit sales of 1,320,097 vehicles (excluding the smart brand, which sold 103,738 units worldwide in 2012).

No one expects sales in Europe to recover in 2013, but sales in the United States and China are expected to remain strong. Audi and Mercedes-Benz hope that new product introductions (like the Mercedes CLA and the Audi SQ5) will help to close the gap to rival BMW, who will introduce new products of its own (like the new 4 Series and the i3 electric) to maintain its sales lead.

Both automakers have a stated goal of overtaking BMW for the number one spot by 2020, now just seven years off.