Mercedes global car sales rise 6% in October, but China demand falls
FRANKFURT -- Daimler's premium brand, Mercedes-Benz, sold 6 percent more cars globally in October, but endured another weak month in the key growth market of China.
Including the 109,632 vehicles Mercedes sold worldwide last month, volumes rose by 5.1 percent to about 1.07 million cars in the first 10 months of this year.
"We expect a new all-time best for sales in the full year," said Mercedes sales chief Joachim Schmidt in a statement on Tuesday.
Despite the seemingly positive news, Mercedes continues to trail rival premium brands BMW and Audi, which are growing far more rapidly in China. Each had already sold roughly 1.10 million vehicles before the month of October even began.
Sales in China fell 3.9 percent to 15,895 vehicles last month, a decline which Daimler attributed to the "very strong" sales from October 2011. Sales through October rose 5.5 percent to 160,425.
"With the full availability of the high-volume B class that was only recently introduced in China, the company expects an added growth impetus in the coming months," Daimler said, adding it also was working to reorganize the sales operations in China.
The redesigned B-class compact was launched in China in August while the new A-class compact is expected to debut in China in the middle of next year.
In the United States, the biggest single market for the automaker, monthly sales rose 5.9 percent to 23,978, adding to an 11.9 percent rise to 215,596 over 10 months. Mercedes is currently the best-selling premium brand in the United States, with a slender lead over rival BMW.
In western Europe, sales rose 5.1 percent last month to 45,813, defying a downturn in car sales forecast to be the biggest in two decades. In the first 10 months though, demand leveled out, rising less than 1 percent to 460,275.
In Germany, the brand's No. 2 market, monthly sales rose 3 percent to 23,270, but remained flat over 10 months, rising less than 1 percent to 214,028.
Deliveries of Daimler's Smart cars rose 8.1 percent in October, lifting 10-month growth to 2.4 percent, or 87,961 cars.
The company said sales of Mercedes-Benz Cars, which includes both the Mercedes and Smart brands, rose 6.2 percent to 118,609 last month and 4.9 percent to 1.16 million over the 10-month period.
Last month, Daimler lowered its 2012 earnings forecast by 11 percent to 8 billion euros ($10.4 billion), after a previous target of matching last year's 9 billion euros. It also scrapped profit targets for next year due to toughening market conditions.
Reuters contributed to this report