Zetsche: Those new, younger CLA buyers will become lifelong Mercedes owners.

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Mercedes finishing year as No. 1 premium brand in the U.S. feels good, Daimler CEO says
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

Victorious Zetsche makes his feelings clear

Mercedes finishing year as No. 1 premium brand in the U.S. feels good, Daimler CEO says

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Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that Mercedes-Benz's victory in the 2013 U.S. luxury-car sales race "feels pretty damn good."

Mercedes finished last year as the No. 1 premium brand in the United States for the first time since 1999. Zetsche, who made his comments on the eve of the Detroit auto show on Sunday, expects Mercedes to hold on to the top slot in the United States in 2014 -- and beyond.

The automaker will have a full year of sales of the CLA coupe-styled four-door sedan, which accounted for 14,113 sales in just three month of U.S. availability in 2013. This year Mercedes also will debut the new C class, its top-selling model in the United States and worldwide.

Looking further ahead, Mercedes said the average age of CLA customers is 10 years below that of average C-class customers. Zetsche said that because of Mercedes' strong customer loyalty, he figures that those new, younger CLA buyers will become lifelong Mercedes owners.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

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