Daimler will become 2016's biggest luxury automaker, Zetsche says

Zetsche: Mercedes on track to sell 2 million cars this year.

FRANKFURT -- Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, will become the world's biggest and most profitable luxury carmaker, CEO Dieter Zetsche said.

"We will achieve it this year, four years ahead of time," Zetsche said. He was referring to the company's 2020 target of becoming the world's biggest premium automaker.

Daimler announced the goal in 2011 and Zetsche said back then everyone laughed at the announcement. Achieving the target would put the Mercedes brand back on top for the first time since 2005, when it lost the crown to BMW.

Mercedes is on track for full-year sales of more than 2 million cars, Zetsche on Thursday at a conference in Frankfurt, putting it ahead of rivals BMW and Audi.

In the first 10 months, Mercedes' brand sales grew 12 percent to 1.71 million vehicles, outpacing BMW brand's 5.5 percent rise to 1.64 million. Third-placed Audi's volume increased 4.2 percent to 1.55 million.

In November, Mercedes sales rose 13 percent to 182,602, the automaker said on Tuesday, taking 11-month deliveries to 1.89 million. BMW and Audi have yet to report brand sales for November and 11 months.

Mercedes is on track to meet its 10 percent return on sales target and has stormed back because of an aggressive product offensive that included expanding its compact car range.

Mercedes is also on track to win the U.S. luxury sales title, finishing the year-to-date through November 18,000 vehicle sales ahead of Lexus and 28,000 units ahead of BMW.  

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