FRANKFURT -- Sales at DaimlerChrysler's premium Mercedes Car Group rose 2 percent in April to 104,900 units, helped by the first monthly rise in deliveries of its core Mercedes-Benz brand this year.
The German-American carmaker said on Friday that sales of Mercedes-Benz cars increased 1 percent to 92,400 vehicles, while deliveries of Smart compacts gained 9.7 percent to 12,500 cars.
The division's sales fell a cumulative 2.7 percent in the first four months to 366,500 vehicles.
The company has forecast a slight rise in full-year 2005 unit sales at Mercedes Car Group as the division rolls out new models.
Daimler said its Mercedes model offensive has started to bear fruit, with "excellent" demand for its new B-class compact sports wagon that will hit dealerships in western Europe in June.
"Roughly four weeks before the market launch of the new B class, there are already more than 20,000 orders from western Europe," it said in a statement.
It added that the revamped M-class SUV had also helped the company post strong sales in the United States last month.
"The new M class started off with great success in its main market, the USA, at the beginning of April," it said.
Grappling with the strong euro, model changeovers and hefty losses at Smart, Mercedes Car Group plunged to a first-quarter operating loss of 954 million euros -- its first red ink since an annual loss in 1993.
Mercedes was stung by 800 million in restructuring costs for Smart, the urban chic minicar that has lost money since the brand made its debut in 1998. Smart has scaled back its ambitions after losing nearly 4,000 euros on each car sold last year.
Mercedes-Benz in March launched its biggest-ever recall to fix glitches in cars already sold to customers. It says new cars rolling off assembly lines now meet its standards.
The profit collapse at Mercedes has prompted a new efficiency drive that aims to boost earnings at the division by more than 3 billion euros and restore an operating margin of 7 percent by 2007