Mercedes 2018 Sales Growth Plummets as Sector Hurdles Mount

(Bloomberg) -- Growth in Mercedes-Benz car deliveries tumbled to the lowest in a decade last year in a swift reversal from double-digit gains after sales in Europe and North America declined.

Daimler AG’s luxury brand delivered 2.31 million cars worldwide in 2018, a rise of just 0.9 percent almost entirely driven by China. The small uptick probably was still enough to leave second-biggest premium carmaker BMW AG trailing for another year, after Mercedes gained the upper hand in 2016.

Key Insights

  • Automakers had a tough second half last year. U.S.-China trade tension escalated, prompting Daimler to warn of lower profits, while stricter emission rules in the European Union created production bottlenecks.
  • Chief Executive Officer-designate Ola Kallenius, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show Tuesday, has little time to lose to make his mark. Daimler’s shares have slumped some 33 percent from a year ago, adding fuel to investors urging deeper changes than a planned separation of the business into three independent entities.
  • Economic jitters are undermining consumer confidence. Car registrations in the U.K., Europe’s second-biggest market, slumped 6.8 percent, the steepest drop since the financial crisis. Rising interest rates in the U.S. and higher vehicles prices are turning off buyers.
  • Mercedes will start selling the revamped CLA in May. The four-door coupe is a key model to lure younger customers from other brands. Launched in the U.S. six years ago, more than two-thirds of buyers at its peak came from competitors.

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Mercedes 2018 Sales Growth Plummets as Sector Hurdles Mount

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