FRANKFURT -- DaimlerChrysler said on Friday that sales of its Mercedes-Benz and small Smart cars fell to 291,200 vehicles in the first quarter of the year from 292,500 units a year ago.
The world's fifth-biggest automaker also said sales of its luxury Mercedes-Benz passenger cars rose one percent to 266,900 in the first quarter, helped by strong sales of its large S-Class sedans.
In March, however, DaimlerChrysler sold 102,400 Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, a 0.3 percent drop from a year ago.
Manufacturers face a decline in overall demand for cars this year amid weak economic conditions and subdued consumer sentiment, which could be further weakened if the war in Iraq turns out to be prolonged.
Mercedes continued to suffer from weak domestic demand. In Germany, the company sold 79,000 Mercedes-Benz cars in the first quarter, about 4.5 percent down from a year ago.
Strong demand in the world's biggest automarket, the United States, especially for the S-Class and new E-Class, helped make up for the weakness at home.