German luxury carmaker Daimler is expected to report an operating margin of 8.3% in 2011, according to the average estimate of 23 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. If the average estimate comes true, the 8.3% operating margin would be Daimler’s best since it parted ways with Chrysler five years ago.
The estimate puts Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, at third place among German luxury carmakers, behind Audi and BMW. The same analyst survey says Audi and BMW are expected to post operating margins of more than 10%. General Motors is estimated to post a 5% operating margin in 2011, while Italian carmaker Fiat, which now owns Chrysler, is expected by analysts to record a 4% operating margin.
The larger operating profit for German carmakers is attributed to the fact that competition is stiff among the world’s largest luxury carmakers. According to the 23 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News, the same trend is expected in 2011.
"The gap in Europe will widen to the advantage of the Germans" this year, said Stefan Bauknecht, a fund manager with Deutsche Bank AG's WS. Bauknecht noted that "Fiat and the French carmakers have the wrong products and the wrong market exposure,” adding that they would be under pressure from Asian carmakers like Toyota and Hyundai. Daimler, Audi and BMW all sold a record number of units in 2011, thanks to their Chinese expansion and the rebound in U.S. spending.
BMW topped the luxury car global market in 2011 with 1.38 million units sold, followed by Audi with 1.3 million, and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz with 1.26 million. German carmakers are expected to take a hit from the current European debt crisis, but it is not enough to stunt their growth. BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler are expected to grow faster than the global market this year, with support from updated models like the BMW 3-series, Audi A3 and Mercedes SL.
Mercedes-Benz’s new generation of SL-Class vehicles that are presented now is the sixth generation to follow the racing car released in 1952. The new SL-Class vehicle enters with a refined aesthete and as an innovative trendsetter possessing an outstandingly high utility value. The German carmaker is offering the new SL initially with two engines: the SL350 variant with a V6 engine and the SL500 variant with a V8 engine. Both are new BlueDIRECT engines, with the SL350 delivering an output of 306 hp or 225 kW, and the SL500 generating 435 hp or 320 kW. These numbers represent a 12% increase over its predecessor’s output.
Moreover, the new SL-Class breathes a whole new life into the true meaning of "SL" – super-light – through a systematic reduction of weight. Mercedes-Benz, for the very first time, is making an all-aluminium body shell. The new Mercedes-Benz SL-Class weighs around 110 kilograms less than those with comparable body shell that’s made of sheet steel. However, despite the lighter weight, it is safer and more rigid than its predecessor. This is attributed to its systematic and intelligent mix of aluminium alloys and components, combined with a few portions of magnesium and high-strength steel.
While the new Mercedes-Benz SL is more comfortable and more equipped with safety devices compared to its predecessor, the scales indicate some really surprising figures. For one, the SL500, which weighs a total of 1785 kg, is 125 kg less than its predecessor. The SL350 is even lighter at 1685 kg. This is thanks to a host of intelligent enhanced details that reduce weight.