FRANKFURT - DaimlerChrysler AG said on Thursday sales at its Mercedes group dipped 0.5 percent in January from a year earlier due to a sharp drop in the number of Smart cars sold.
DaimlerChrysler said it sold 81,100 luxury Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in January, up 1 percent from the same month a year ago. But sales of its small Smart cars fell nearly 18 percent to 6,000 vehicles, giving total Mercedes Car Group sales of 87,100 vehicles.
A DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman said the group expected Smart car sales to pick up in the coming months once models just launched are available in all markets.
Although sales of Mercedes-Benz cars in the United States rose 4 percent in January, the brand was hit by weakness in its key German market, where sales fell 6 percent to 20,300 vehicles.
Mercedes said that fall was due partly to the lower number of working days in January this year compared to last year.
But amid flagging demand for cars in Europe which usually hits volume carmakers first, even luxury automakers are feeling the pinch. Domestic rival BMW AG also is suffering from weaker sales at home.