E 320 CDI
Stuttgart - Following the model-cycle-related drop in sales of the past several months, the Mercedes Car Group is experiencing a positive sales trend at the beginning of the second quarter, particularly in its main sales markets of Germany and the United States. The division sold 376,800 vehicles worldwide from January to April 2004, or four percent fewer than the 393,100 units sold in the same period last year. In April 2004, 102,800 customers (April 2003: 107,100) opted to buy a Mercedes-Benz or smart brand vehicle. Important momentum for increasing sales in the second half of the year is being provided by the successful market launches of the new generation of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the new SLK and the smart forfour.
The positive trend through April is primarily due to the E-Class, which continued its record run with sales of 96,700 passenger cars. Since its market introduction in March 2002, when it successfully kicked off Mercedes-Benz' second model offensive, the E-Class sedan has been sold to almost 500,000 customers. With global market shares of about 43 percent for the station wagon and over 33 percent for the sedan, the two E-Class variants clearly dominate their respective market segments. With sales of 30,900 vehicles through April, the S-Class easily maintained its worldwide top position in the luxury segment with a market share of 39 percent.
The smart brand registered steady growth throughout the first few months of the year and continues to perform well. For the year as a whole, the small-car brand expects sales to rise substantially, particularly as a result of demand for the new four-seater smart forfour. This third model series after the smart fortwo and the smart roadster has received a very positive customer response since it was added to the dealer showrooms' product line-up at the end of April. Additional growth potential is provided by the smart roadster, which has already significantly surpassed the original expectations by selling more than 25,000 units since its market introduction a year ago. From January through April 2004, 35,800 customers purchased a smart, a ten-percent increase in sales over the same period in 2003. And a total of 11,300 units were sold in April, ten percent more than in the same month last year. Demand developed particularly favorably in Germany, where deliveries climbed by nine percent to 12,000 vehicles through April.
After a model-changeover-related sales decline at the beginning of the year, the Mercedes-Benz brand is now showing signs of a considerable upswing in Germany, its main sales market. Sales of Mercedes-Benz cars in April totaled 32,300 vehicles (April 2003: 32,500), supported in particular by the strong demand for the new generation of the C-Class and the new SLK. In the second month after its market introduction, the SLK set a new sales record in Germany, with 2,900 new vehicle registrations. And although the A-Class is now nearing the end of its lifecycle, it performed extremely well through April, with sales in Germany rising by seven percent on the previous year's level to 25,100 units. For the first quarter as a whole, the A-Class's market share climbed to over 18 percent, giving this smallest Mercedes-Benz series the second-place ranking behind the market leader, the VW Golf, in this hotly contested market segment.
In the United States, demand in April for Mercedes-Benz brand cars rose by three percent to 18,400 vehicles. As a result, customer deliveries totaled 67,500 units (January-April 2003: 69,500 units) for the first four months as a whole. Record sales of the C-Class sedan (18,000 units, up 19 percent) E-Class (17,900 units, up five percent) and the SL-Class (5,200 units, up 39 percent) contributed substantially to this result, allowing Mercedes-Benz to remain at the record level achieved last year.
Market leader in the Asia/Pacific region's premium segment
In the Asia/Pacific region, Mercedes-Benz sales rose by two percent to 30,600 units through April 2004, enabling the brand to maintain its leadership in the market's premium segment. And with sales of 13,900 passenger cars in the first four months of the year, Mercedes-Benz sold more cars during this period in Asia's largest market, Japan, than any other premium manufacturer. Mercedes-Benz has also been picking up speed this year in the rapidly growing Chinese market, where sales during the first four months climbed considerably faster than in the segment overall, rising by 75 percent to 3,700 passenger cars. With its decision to set up production facilities in China for C- and E-Class passenger cars, Mercedes-Benz has laid the foundation for substantial growth in the region. In Thailand, Southeast Asia's main sales market, a 14-percent rise from January through April pushed sales to the level of 2,000 vehicles, further reinforcing the brand's leading position in the country's luxury segment. The C-, E- and S-Classes are all at the top of their respective segments in Thailand.
(May 07, 2004)