Daimler AG said that sales of Mercedes-Benz reached a record in 2012 with December volumes hitting an all-time high. The increase in the demand in the U.S. had offset a slower Chinese market. Mercedes sales in December 2012 increased by 0.7% at 125,234 vehicles. For 2012, Mercedes sold 1.32 million units, about 4.7% higher than the previous year.
U.S. volumes in December had increased by 9.5%, while they declined by 18.6% in China, a major growth market for premium brands. In comparison, the sales of bigger rivals Audi and BMW have been increasing in China at double-digit rates.
In a recent interview by German publication Boersen-Zeitung, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that by 2020, he wants the automaker to return to the No. 1 spot in the premium car market ahead of Audi and BMW.
He said that he is hopeful that it will hit this target while he’s in his current position. Zetsche's contract is through December 2013 but it’s expected that in February, it will be extended by three years. Zetsche said that Mercedes had not been able to keep up with its rivals in the compact car segment as well as in the Chinese market.
Since the demand in Europe has fallen due to the debt crisis, Germany's luxury-car makers were only able to maintain their growth by sales in the U.S. and China. For 2012, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz all aimed to reach record sales.
However, mass-market rivals in Europe are expecting the lowest sales in the region in almost two decades. So far, BMW and Audi have yet to release their global sales results for 2012. It’s expected that BMW will dominate even more in the luxury-car industry in 2013.