Despite current and future economic volatility, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche is confident the automaker is well prepared for the future following the launch of a new plan that extends until 2020.
"The first decade following the 125th birthday of the automobile will bring many changes to our industry. We are very well prepared -- and we look forward to working with you to make the next decade a 'Mercedes decade'," Zetsche said in a letter to employees obtained by Automotive News Europe.
The rest of the Mercedes Benz Cars management board also signed the letter. Mercedes Benz Cars includes the Mercedes, Smart and Maybach brands.
"Even in the future, we must be prepared for short- to mid-term market weakness," Zetsche said in the letter. "There are indications that certain markets could weaken in the next few months, but we are prepared for this outcome."
The CEO said the decisive point is that the company is pursuing a long-term plan with its new strategy. He wrote: "The planning outlook is not the next quarter, but rather the next decade. Experts all agree that by 2020, demand for cars will grow faster than the overall global economy."
Zetsche said Mercedes will expand its product portfolio with 10 new models over the next four years. In the compact segment alone there will be five new models, at least four of which will be aimed at younger customer groups.
"At the same time we will grow at the upper end of the model spectrum with, for example, additional variants of the next S class, another attractive SUV, as well as with models such as the CLS Shooting Brake," he said.
Automotive News Europe sources say that Mercedes may add a big convertible similar to the Ocean Drive concept it debuted in 2007.
In the letter, Zetsche reiterated that he wants Mercedes to be the world's best-selling premium brand by or before the end of the current decade.
"In sum, we want to reach the intermediate goal of 1.5 million unit sales for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars as early as 2014 -- one year earlier than previously planned. By 2015 we should hit 1.6 million," he said.
The CEO added that the company will not make any sales forecast yet for 2020.
"We are deliberately not stating a number for 2020: A long-term prediction like that would be very hypothetical -- and it makes no sense to start a contest for the slogan 'Who'll get more?' All the same, we're reiterating our ambition to lead: Whatever the relevant sales number toward the end of the decade may be, we want to be in the top spot."