FRANKFURT -- The head of the Mercedes car division of DaimlerChrysler said on Wednesday he expects to maintain the premium car's share of the U.S. market in 2005 despite weak sales in February.
"Mercedes will at least maintain its 2004 position," Eckhard Cordes said.
Mercedes car sales in the United States fell 17 percent in February. Cordes said the drop was partly due to a model change and reiterated its aim for a 7 percent profit margin in 2007.
Last month, DaimlerChrysler reported fourth-quarter results far short of expectations, hit by a collapse in profits at Mercedes.
Mercedes profits shrivelled to just 20 million euros, from 784 million a year ago, prompting the company to announce a new efficiency drive that aims to boost earnings at the division by over 3 billion euros and may entail job cuts.
Mercedes has been laboring under currency headwinds, high launch costs for new products, disruptive model changeovers, stepped-up spending to fix quality problems and a poor financial performance by its Smart range of compact cars.