FRANKFURT -- Sales at DaimlerChrysler's premium Mercedes Car Group fell 5.8 percent in May to 96,400 units, breaking two straight months of gains, the German-American carmaker said on Monday.
Sales of Mercedes-Benz brand cars retreated 6.6 percent to 83,600 vehicles as model changeovers for the M- and S-class vehicles weighed, while deliveries of Smart small cars dipped 0.4 percent to 12,800 cars last month, it said in a statement.
The division's sales fell a cumulative 3.4 percent in the first five months to 462,900 vehicles, with Mercedes-Benz brand sales off 6.5 percent and Smart deliveries up 24.3 percent.
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 it had received more than 28,000 orders for its new B-class compact sports wagon that hit dealerships in western Europe last weekend.
Two months before the launch of its revamped M class in western Europe, Mercedes said demand in the region was "extremely high" for its offroader, which is already on sale in the United States.
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 ($1.17 billion) -- its first red ink since a year loss in 1993.
Mercedes was stung by 800 million euros in restructuring costs for Smart, the urban 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.