Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG, Europeâs largest carmaker, said global sales rose to a record in 2008 as demand for Audi and Skoda models, and growth in emerging markets, helped counter a slump in the U.S. Global deliveries advanced 0.6 percent to 6.23 million vehicles last year from 6.19 million in 2007, Wolfsburg, Germany- based Volkswagen said today in a statement. December sales fell 2.9 percent to 495,000. Volkswagen extended Christmas vacations at German plants and has cut production in response to the global recession. The auto industryâs sales in Germany slid 2 percent in 2008 to 3.09 million vehicles, the fewest since the countryâs 1990 reunification. The U.S. market shrank 18 percent to 13.2 million cars and light trucks, a 16-year low. âIts very good and better than their rivals,â Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Bankhaus Metzler, said by phone today. The sales increase is because of âthe success of their small cars and Audi, which is the only premium brand still doing well.â Pieper said the December and full-year numbers exceeded his expectations. Volkswagen took U.S. market share from Toyota Motor Corp. and Chrysler LLC in December as new models and a resilient Jetta sedan helped stem a sales drop in the worldâs largest car market. VW said Jan. 6 that market share in the U.S. rose last month to 2.8 percent from 2.1 percent a year earlier even as Audi sales fell 9.3 percent and VW deliveries plunged 14 percent. Multibrand Approach The Audi luxury division met a full-year goal of more than 1 million sales as deliveries rose 4.1 percent. Audiâs success came as rival Daimler AGâs Mercedes-Benz suffered a decline. âOur groupâs multibrand strategy is paying off,â Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said in the statement. âWe expanded our position furtherâ with market-share gains in Germany and the U.S., he said. Sales by the Czech Republicâs Skoda division rose 7.1 percent for the year. The carmakerâs German deliveries in December fell 0.5 percent to 91,300. That brought 2008 sales to 1.06 million, a 0.4 percent increase from 2007. Full-year western European sales excluding VWâs home country fell 6.9 percent to 1.92 million, the company said. Volkswagen sold 41,500 cars in Brazil last month, bringing the full-year total to 633,300, an 8.9 percent jump. Russian deliveries reached 13,000 in December, resulting in a 62 percent increase to 131,300 for 2009 as a whole. Chinese sales jumped 28 percent in December, propelling a 13 percent gain in full-year deliveries to 1.02 million, Volkswagen said on Jan. 9.