Mercedes-Benz car sales in China rose 65% to a record 70,100 units in 2009. World-wide the brand delivered 1,012,300 vehicles last year, down 9.7%.

Mercedes chief Dieter Zetsche expects "sales to be slightly higher in 2010 than last year" and to "successfully defend our position against the competition".

The automaker claimed double-digit Chinese growth rates for its E-Class, C-Class, and SUVs, adding that China was now the largest market for the S-Class sedan with a market share of around 40%.

The Asia/Pacific saw sales up 13% to a record 165,300 units.

Brazil volume rose 46% to 5,200 vehicles but German sales slipped 12% to 265,500 vehicles. Sales rose in nearly all major west European markets, however.

US sales were down 15% 190,600 units but the automaker said there were signs of recovery in the second half.

Canadian sales rose 19% to a record 24,300.

Maybach volume of 200 was down on 2008's 300 (rival Rolls-Royce also saw a fall from around 1,200 to 1,000) and Smart worldwide deliveries fell 13% to 116,900 units despite launches in new markets such as China and Brazil.