Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche said he aims to be number one in the premium segment in terms of sales and profits, but won’t say when he expects to achieve this goal.
At the moment, BMW is in the lead in terms of sales and profits. In the first half of 2011, its profit margin was 13.3 per cent, ahead of Audi’s 11.8 per cent and Mercedes lagging in third place with 10.0 per cent. The rankings were the same in terms of global sales with BMW’s 690,000, Audi’s 653,000 and Mercedes’ 611,000.
According to IHS Automotive, Mercedes will overtake Audi to take second spot in 2014, with BMW still leading with sales of just over 1.6 million. BMW has said it plans to sell two million BMWs, Minis and Rolls Royces by 2020. Audi targets the same number by 2020.
In an interview released during the Frankfurt Car Show, Zetsche said Mercedes and Smart sales will hit more than 1.35 million this year, aadding he would reveal more details “later”.
Meanwhile at the show Mercedes launched the new “B” class, which has been redesigned to be sleeker and lower. It will be powered initially by four-cylinder gasoline direct-injection engines of 1.6 and 1.8 liters, and 1.8 liter diesels. Stop-start fuel-saving systems are standard, and there’s a seven-speed automatic as well as the six-speed manual gearbox.
Nissan announced at the show that its Infiniti brand would build a compact car based an a Mercedes platform to challenge the BMW 1-series and Audi A3. Mercedes already supplies some diesel engines for Infiniti in Europe, as part of the Renault-Nissan cooperation alliance with Daimler.
Neil Winton – September 20, 2011