U.S., China boost Mercedes' January sales
FRANKFURT -- Global sales at Daimler's Mercedes-Benz Cars unit rose 8.1 percent to 102,180 in January as the United States and China helped lift demand.
Mercedes brand sales rose 9.2 percent to 94,895 vehicles, while volume at the carmaker's Smart microcar brand fell 4.2 percent to 7,285.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mercedes sales chief Joachim Schmidt said: "We are optimistic about 2013, although we need to be prepared for market volatility particularly in western Europe over the months to come. We see growth potential especially in North America as well as in Japan, China and Russia."
Sales of Mercedes cars and SUVs grew 15.4 percent in China to 16,695 vehicles last month after a fall of nearly 19 percent in December. Deliveries in the United States, the automaker's biggest-single market, were up 10.8 percent to 22,501.
In western Europe, Mercedes sales increased 2 percent to 34,872. The company said the new A- and B-class models were proving popular. Globally, Mercedes sold a record 20,587 units of the two compacts in January, a rise of 58.5 percent.
In Germany, Mercedes' No. 3 market, monthly sales dropped nearly 1 percent to 12,541.
The automaker is also counting on new products this year to help lift sales, such as the facelifted E-class, an all-new S-class flagship sedan and the CLA compact four-door coupe.
Both Mercedes and Audi aim to take the premium-sales lead from rival BMW by 2020. Last year, the BMW brand sold 1.54 million, followed by Audi with 1.45 million. The Mercedes brand sold 1.32 million.
In December, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told a German newspaper he is "confident" Mercedes will be ahead of its rivals by 2020 "at the latest." In July 2012, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said the same.
Reuters contributed to this report
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