GERMANY: 'Vacation month' sees Mercedes sales drop
The Mercedes Car Group sold 77,300 passenger cars worldwide in the 'vacation' month of August, compared with 83,900 in August 2003.
Model changeovers for three major model lines (SLK, C- and A-class) were blamed for a 5% drop in year to date sales to end August by the Mercedes Car Group of 760,300 units (2003: 797,400).
Mercedes is looking to the redesigned A-class, on sale in Europe from September 10, for a fourth quarter boost.
"The new A-Class is clearly going to get off to a great start," said Joachim Schmidt, head, of sales and marketing. "The more than 50,000 vehicles already ordered have significantly exceeded our expectations - and the vehicles haven't even been presented at the dealerships yet."
Mercedes posted a 9% decline in sales to 69,000 units in August (2003: 76,100), due primarily to model changeovers. Worldwide, 676,100 cars were delivered to customers from January through August, a decline of just under 7% from the first eight months of 2003.
Mercedes-Benz claimed its SLK assumed world market leadership in its segment even before the September launch in its second largest sales market - the US. Sales of the roadster were up 86% through August, to a record 31,900 vehicles. Revised C-class sales of 25,300 units in August, up 4%) were claimed to lead the model's segment worldwide.
Sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the US were up in August by over 2% to 18,000. Year to date, the E-class is up 7% to 36,800, the C-class sedan up 11% to 38,400 units, the CLK up 16% to 14,900 units and the SL up 15% to 9,000.
In China, Mercedes sold 6,300 cars YTD end August, up 39% on the same period in 2003.
Smart increased deliveries by over 7% to 8,300 units in August. A total of 84,200 units were sold YTD through August, an increase of 17% from the first eight months of 2003.
YTD dmand through August in high volume European markets was up 13% in Germany to 29,100 units, while France was up 26% to 7,500 units and the Netherlands 22% up to 2,600 units. Sales in Switzerland increased 53% to 2,700 units, Portugal was up 52% to 1,800 units and Greece, at 1,300 units, was up 70%.
Mercedes said the new Dutch-built forfour has been a key driver of the sharp increase in sales in 2004. In addition to the diesel engine version, which was launched at the end of August, a right-hand drive version for the key British market becomes available this month.