Mercedes' global sales hit record in 2012 on U.S. demand
Mercedes' December sales rose 0.7 percent to 125,234 vehicles globally, bringing the total for 2012 to 1.32 million, up 4.7 percent from a year earlier.
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Sales of Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz luxury brand reached a record in 2012 as rising U.S. demand offset a weaker market in China and pushed December volumes to an all-time high.
In the final month of the year, Mercedes sales rose up 0.7 percent at 125,234 vehicles, bringing the total for 2012 to 1.32 million, up 4.7 percent from a year earlier.
December volumes in the United States were up 9.5 percent, while they dropped 18.6 percent in China, a key growth market for premium brands.
Larger rivals Audi and BMW have been increasing their vehicle sales in China at double-digit rates, by comparison.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche hopes to return the automaker to the top spot in the premium car market ahead of Audi and BMW by 2020, he said in a recent interview with a German newspaper.
"I am confident that we will be ahead of our rivals by 2020 at the latest," he told Boersen-Zeitung in an interview published late last year.
He said he hoped to reach that target during his time in office. Zetsche's contract currently runs until December 2013 but is expected to be extended by three years in February.
Zetsche told the newspaper Mercedes had failed to keep up with its rivals in the compact car market and in China.
With the debt crisis depressing demand in Europe, Germany's luxury-car makers have maintained growth by selling vehicles in the United States and China. BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz all targeted record sales in 2012, while mass-market competitors in Europe are bracing for the lowest sales in the region in nearly two decades.
BMW and Audi have not released 2012 global sales results.
BMW is expected to strengthen its dominance of the luxury-car industry this year.
The Munich-based carmaker will increase sales 4.6 percent to 1.54 million vehicles in 2013, beating Audi's 1.1 percent growth to 1.44 million autos, according to estimates from industry researcher IHS Automotive.
Mercedes, which was passed in sales by Audi in 2011, will retake the No. 2 spot this year, with sales of 1.46 million vehicles, IHS predicts.Contact Automotive News