GENEVA -- Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche today said he anticipates an 8.5 million unit annualized selling rate in the United States for February.
Calling it a new low, Zetsche said, we havent seen the turning point yet.
If true, the 8.5 million selling rate would set a new low since the U.S. Commerce Department began compiling the statistic in 1976. The current historic low is 8.8 million units in December 1981.
Automakers are reporting U.S. sales today and the selling rate will be determined at the end of the day.
But Zetsche said that Daimler is seeing increases in used car sales and residual values of its vehicles, which might be an early sign of some improvement.
Zetsche, speaking in an interview here, said the product mix in the United States has flip-flopped after swinging away from trucks to cars during the 2008 gasoline price spike. American buyers have turned back to SUVs now that gas prices have fallen, he said.
This has totally reversed the mix today, Zetsche said. Its the same as it was at the start of 2007.
Zetsche also said:
Talks about future cooperation with BMW are continuing, although there is much more debate in the media than between BMW and us. Zetsche said the two companies will cooperate when there is mutual benefit and that, although Daimler will seek other project partners, it makes sense to cooperate with another luxury automaker.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionnes prediction of a shakeout among European automakers is debatable: I have a high regard for Sergio. I think hes done a great job and I like him, but hes not Moses.
Daimler has no involvement in talks between Fiat and Chrysler about a proposed alliance. Daimler is still talking to Cerberus Capital Management, Chryslers majority owner, about shedding Daimlers remaining 19.9 percent stake in Chrysler.