Mercedes-benz Expects Sturdy US Sales in 2007

By: James Russell

DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz is seeing another solid year of sales in the US for 2007 with regards to its lines of automobiles as well as the sales of various Mercedes-Benz parts like despite threats of a weakening economy.

The arrival of the revamped C-Class car in August is also seen as an opportunity to boost sales of new products in the Mercedes-Benz lineup just like what it did last year (2006) when Mercedes US sales went up by 11% or 248,000 units of vehicles were sold.

In his speech at this year's North American International Auto Show, Mercedes Car Group Sales and Marketing Chief Klaus Maier said, "If you go with the right products at the right time there is enough purchasing power to get the volume we want to have in the U.S. market... With the new C-Class coming in the middle of the year this will give us enough momentum. I think we have still not fully exploited the potential of the existing products like the S-Class (executive car) and ML and GL (SUVs)... These are all brand new cars. We see the demand is still there and that should help us until the C-Class can pick up. That is why we are not pessimistic even if the economic environment gets more modest."

Maier did not give a specific sales forecast but he did say that sales would not grow at a double digit rate every year. When asked about the R-Class sports wagon he said that the US sales of the R-Class sports wagon did not start right probably because the market was not ready for it but rest assured Mercedes-Benz is looking into the matter to figure out just where to fit the crossover. He further stated that Mercedes-Benz have launched the model slightly ahead of schedule. "I think we will attribute more features in 2007 to the product, which gives it more momentum for the market. That will help us," he said.

Mercedes-Benz is also in the forefront of promoting diesel cars in the US market - Maier said they are optimistic that the sales of diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz cars (which rose from 60% last year or 7,000 units sold, making up 3% of the overall US sales of the company) would still increase this year.

Maier also said, "There are two hurdles we have to overcome. The first is it should not hurt the brand perception of Mercedes, which is different in the United States than in Europe. It is a luxury car and we want to keep that brand perception. The second is profitability. It doesn't make any sense for the company if we go just for the sake of volume. It must be profitable at the dollar/euro exchange rate existing then."

Mercedes-Benz has also postponed its plans of selling its B-class compact car in the US due to the strong euro undermining the business. The company however, will not rule out the sales of its next generation lines of cars which are due to come out in the US market next decade. Mercedes-Benz has long been using the exchange rate as basis for their strategic planning and so far it has worked wonder for the company for years.

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