The sputtering U.S. economic recovery may pose the biggest risk to the auto industry's growth prospects this year, but it isn't deterring Mercedes-Benz from celebrating the opening of a flagship showroom in the Big Apple.
Mercedes-Benz USA -- pouring on the glitz for stars, dealers and customers -- threw a gala last night to show off its gleaming new $220 million dealership on 11th Avenue in New York City. Mercedes-Benz Manhattan is the brand's only company-owned store in the United States.
The luxury automaker hosted more than 1,000 guests, including some of its biggest U.S. dealers, such as Roger Penske, CEO of the Penske Automotive Group.
The new store showcases the Autohaus modern design that Mercedes-Benz rolled out for all dealers several years ago.
About 300 of Mercedes-Benz's 355 U.S. dealerships have spent a combined $1.4 billion since 2008 to upgrade or to build new Autohaus design stores "to deliver the dream you deserve when you buy a Mercedes-Benz," said Ernst Lieb, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.
Mercedes' U.S. sales are up 9 percent this year in a market that has risen 14 percent. But industry sales weakened in May on supply shortages and consumer jitters about the economy.
Earlier Tuesday, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche told The Wall Street Journal that mixed economic readings in the United States could slow the industry's strong rebound.
"The biggest risk is that the U.S. economy does not start [recovering] on a more consistent basis," he said.