FRANKFURT -- The world's biggest truckmaker DaimlerChrysler said on Friday it had sold 501,000 commercial vehicles globally last year, a three percent rise from 2002.
The German company, whose truck brands include Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner and Sterling, said the growth stemmed mainly from North America, which saw 14 percent growth. The region accounts for roughly a quarter of total truck sales. Mercedes-Benz vans, however, fared less well with sales slipping 2.4 percent worldwide last year.
Global truck sales are gradually picking up after a two to three year slump on both sides of the Atlantic which has hit profits at manufacturers and forced many of them to slash costs.
DaimlerChrysler's trucks unit is emerging from more than two years of restructuring and many analysts expect it to have performed well in last year's fourth quarter.
The company as a whole beat its own target for last year by earlier this week posting a $6.4 billion adjusted operating profit.
Analysts were reluctant to read too much into the results as there was no breakdown of the divisions, but most thought the trucks divisions may have contributed to the positive surprise.
The world's fifth biggest carmaker is still struggling to return its U.S. Chrysler arm to long-term profits even after a three-year revamp.