Daimler bullish after strong first-half sales rise

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German luxury auto manufacturer Daimler said Monday it foresaw a strong third quarter after boosting sales by more than 11 percent in the first half of the year, with a huge surge in China.

Sales director Joachim Schmidt said in a statement that Daimler would "continue the success of Mercedes-Benz with a marked increase in the third quarter" of 2010.

Daimler, which produces Mercedes-Benz automobiles and Smart city cars, reported increases in group sales of 10.6 percent in June from the same month a year earlier and 11.6 percent in the first half of the year, compared with the same period in 2009.

Sales were driven by strong demand for Mercedes-Benz E- and S-Class cars, a statement said, and reflected a marked rebound in fortunes for premium car makers in general.

Daimler delivered a total of 122,900 Mercedes-Benz autos and Smart city cars last month, while the half-year figure rose to 607,400 vehicles.

High-end automakers were left behind when car-scrapping premiums boosted sales of less-expensive models in many major global markets last year.

But an economic recovery, especially in emerging markets, has now boosted demand for luxury cars as well.

Mercedes brand autos turned in a gain of 13.2 percent in June on the year at 113,300 vehicles, and a six-month increase of 15.2 percent to 556,700 units.

China stood out among all of Mercedes' markets, with a rise of 177.2 percent in June to 13,700 units, and of 119.8 percent for the first six months of the year to 60,500.

The United States, another key market for Mercedes, reported a rise of 20.5 percent in June to 18,300 cars, and a six-month rise of 21.8 percent to 103,700.

The weakest sales were reported in Germany, which posted losses of 10.5 and 6.5 percent, respectively.

Smart sales slumped globally meanwhile, showing a drop of 13.3 percent in June and a six-month fall of 17 percent.

Daimler and French automaker Renault plan to produce new versions of their respective Smart and Twingo models on a common platform to reduce costs.

© 2010 AFP

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