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Mercedes E class can retake segment lead from Lexus ES, says Zetsche

Zetsche: “I'm very confident” the E class will regain segment leadership. Photo credit: REUTERS

DETROIT -- Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche is counting on the redesigned Mercedes-Benz E class to reclaim the No. 1 spot in the midsize luxury sedan segment from the Lexus ES.

“I’m very confident” the E class will regain segment leadership, Zetsche said.

The E class is the No. 2 vehicle in the segment after the Lexus ES. The E class was the segment leader from 2010 through 2012, after its last redesign in 2009. It sold a record 69,803 vehicles in 2013 but the ES nonetheless passed the Mercedes nameplate that year and has held the top spot ever since.

“It’s a big market, and you always have the chance to grow your share, and I’m pretty confident this will be the outcome with this car,” Zetsche said in an interview Sunday night on the sidelines of a press event introducing the 2017 E class. “So I see clearly growing numbers for us in this segment.”

The redesigned E class goes on sale this summer in a market in which U.S. car sales are sliding and light-truck sales are booming because of cheap gasoline.

In 2015, E class sales in the U.S. plunged 25 percent to 49,736 vehicles. The midsize luxury car segment, meanwhile, fell 6.8 percent last year.

You can reach Amy Wilson at awilson@crain.com -- Follow Amy on Twitter: @theamywilson

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