FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG will largely refrain from taking a traditional summer break at its car factories with models like the revamped Mercedes-Benz E class keeping assembly lines busy even as overall European auto demand slides to a 20-year low. BMW Group is also either preparing for new models or keeping plants churning out cars to meet demand.
The full order books of the German luxury carmakers contrast with factory shutdowns and job cuts at mass-market rivals such PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Ford Motor Co.
"Growth in the U.S. and China more than outbalances the European slowdown for the German carmakers," said Christian Ludwig, a Dusseldorf-based analyst with Bankhaus Lampe. "Europe is no longer as important for the German luxury-car makers as it used to be."
Demand from the U.S. and Asia for models such as the BMW 3 series and Audi A3 have insulated the manufacturers from a deepening recession in the euro area.
While the financial crunch and government austerity measures have caused the European car market to shrink for six straight years, the German carmakers continue to expand.
"We're planning for another year of record sales," Martin Steinlehner, a Mercedes spokesman, said Wednesday by phone. "We're not slowing our production in most of our plants" similar to 2012, when Mercedes sold 1.32 million cars and SUVs.
Factories in Hungary, South Africa and China as well as most plants in Germany will work through the summer months, Steinlehner said.
A plant in Bremen, Germany, will halt for two weeks in July to prepare for the new C-class sedan and station wagon due next year, while Smart ForTwo production in Hambach, France, will be interrupted in preparation for an overhaul of the two-seat minicar.
Mercedes has been expanding its model lineup with more entry-level small cars such as the new CLA four-door coupe as it seeks to pass BMW and Volkswagen AG's Audi in sales by the end of the decade.
Mercedes deliveries rose 7 percent to 121,360 vehicles in May, the company said Wednesday in a statement. Sales in the first five months of 2013 advanced 6 percent to 562,824 vehicles.
"We are posting solid increases in many markets in Europe and Asia, as well as in the U.S., at a time, when the new E class and the CLA are just entering the big markets," Joachim Schmidt, sales chief of the Stuttgart-based carmaker, said in the statement.
BMW, which is also targeting record sales this year, hasn't scheduled a general summer break at its plants, spokesman Nikolai Glies said by phone.
A current two-week stop in Dingolfing, Germany, is related to maintenance in the paint shop, while SUV production in Spartanburg, South Carolina, will halt for two weeks in July to prepare for the new X5 that will be introduced later this year, Glies said.
In September, Mini production in Oxford, England, will stop for two weeks to prepare for the next generation of BMW's compact-car brand.
Audi is likewise shutting down some production in Germany to upgrade equipment, Kathrin Feigl, an Audi spokeswoman said by e-mail. Last year, the company only slowed production without closing plants.
Production of the mid-sized A4 sedan in Ingolstadt will halt during the summer holidays to reorganize production lines for a new version, while A3 manufacturing continues.
Audi will stop making the A5 coupe, A8 sedan and other upscale models at its Neckarsulm plant for three weeks in August for maintenance.
Elsewhere in the European auto industry, the prospects are dimmer. Workers at a plant in Bochum, Germany, owned by General Motors Co.'s Opel unit, will hold a rally on June 10 as they face the prospect of closing.
Ford is shutting a factory in Belgium and two sites in the UK. Peugeot plans to eliminate 17 percent of its French work force by the end of 2014 and will close a 2,500-employee assembly plant near Paris next year to trim excess capacity. At BMW's factories, "we generally have good utilization," spokesman Glies said.