DETROIT — European automakers experience a stellar 1999 sales year in the U.S. market. Volkswagen AG heads the list, with U.S. sales jumping 43.6%. Unit sales numbered 315,563 compared to 219,679 in 1998. Jetta and Passat sales increased 45.6% and 73.5%, respectively.

VW's luxury brand, Audi, sold a total of 65,959 cars, up 38.8% over 1998. The company has sold 5,139 TT coupes since last May and will add a TT convertible this year.

Fellow German automakers Porsche AG, BMW AG and DaimlerChrysler AG's Mercedes-Benz saw sales increase, as well. Porsche experienced a 21% rise over previous year, with sales of 20,875 units, led by its Boxster convertible. BMW sales were up 18% to 154,970 vehicles, while at its U.K. subsidiary, Land Rover sales rose 37.1% year-on-year to 29,380 units.

Mercedes reported its highest U.S. sales year ever, with 189,437 units; taking the lead over Lexus — at 185,890 units — as the year's best-selling U.S. luxury brand. Mercedes' 11.3% year-on-year increase was fueled by E-Class sales of 50,214 units.

Ford Motor Co.'s Volvo Cars U.S. sales increased 15.3% to 116,692 units. The Swedish automaker's results were helped by the introduction of the S40/V40 sedan and station wagon, which added 11,988 units to total sales for the year.

Jaguar Cars Ltd. sales were up 56% to 35,039 vehicles. It was the company's largest sales year in history.

At Saab Automobile AB, sales increased 28.6% during 1999. Some 39,541 vehicles were sold in the year.