For the 3-pointed star, the clouds have parted

Jason Stein is editor of Automotive NewsJason Stein is editor of Automotive News
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It appears that the gloom of the last couple of years has officially lifted.

Daimler and Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche announced Sunday night that the automaker is on track for solid results and will invest more than 10 billion euros (about $12.9 billion) in r&d in 2010 and 2011 to add more technology to its Mercedes, Smart and Maybach brands.

Zetsche also said Mercedes will outpace the industry's expected pace of 6 percent global sales growth this year.

He said Mercedes sales increased by 15 percent in 2010 worldwide compared with 2009. In the United States, sales increased by 18 percent.

"The turn of the new year has a much greater sense of optimism," Zetsche said. "The auto industry is back on track."

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