BMW, Mercedes sales bosses see Europe rebound

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DETROIT -- The sales bosses at BMW and Mercedes-Benz believe the European new-car market is headed toward a rebound this year.

"Europe has turned the corner. We will see some growth" in 2014, BMW board member for sales and marketing Ian Robertson said on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show on Tuesday.

Mercedes-Benz Cars head of sales and marketing Ola Kaellenius said: "We expect moderate growth."

Both executives were encouraged by the positive signs seen in the last few months of 2013 as western Europe's year-on-year volume rose 4 percent in October, 1 percent in November and 12 percent in December, according to data from market researcher LMC Automotive.

"We saw some green shoots in the second half so maybe we have crossed the bottom part of the valley," Kaellenius said during an interview at the show on Monday. "We are cautiously optimistic."

BMW feels confident because it will add new models such as the 2 series while Mercedes starts European sales of the C class and GLA in the first quarter of the year.

Automakers and industry watchers expect the region's vehicle sales to increase by up to 3 percent this year.

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

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