Record sales of luxury Mercedes-Benz cars helped Daimler to beat first-quarter earnings forecasts and close its profitability gap with German rivals BMW and Audi. As Hayley Platt reports it's partly down to the revamped C-Class saloon and a growing lineup of sport-utility vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz has lagged its German rivals BMW and Audi in recent years in both deliveries and profitability. But it seems Daimler's flagship division is moving up a gear. Record sales of luxury Mercedes-Benz cars has led to record profits for Daimler - they were up 41% in the first quarter. It was largely due to demand for the revamped C-Class saloon and a growing line-up of more profitable sport-utility vehicles. Mike Ingram of BGC Partners. SOUNDBITE (English) BGC PARTNERS MARKET ANALYST, MICHAEL INGRAM, SAYING: "They seem to have right products, they are selling into some economies which are doing reasonably well, they are getting on top of costs, and of course, in common with a lot of these European industrials they've had a significant devaluation, you know, by over 20 percent in the euro from where it was this time last year and that has certainly helped to bolster their results." Daimler saw record deliveries last month in Europe, China and the United States - quarterly car sales were up 18 percent year on year to almost 460,000 models. Daimler Trucks - often seen as barometer of the health of the economy - also saw earnings rise by more than half as growth in North America offset plunging demand in Brazil. The auto maker expects the trend to continue, although a slowing economy in China may curb one major source of demand.