Global sales at DaimlerChrysler’s Mercedes Car Group fell 9.4% in July to 98,100 units, the carmaker reportedly said, led by a drop in its flagship Mercedes-Benz marque.

According to Reuters, sales of Mercedes brand vehicles declined 12.3% versus the year-earlier month, with the maker citing one fewer work day, the impact of worker demonstrations over planned cuts in labour costs, and retooling for its new A-class model.

Divisional sales fell 4.3% in the first seven months of 2004 to 682,900 units, the German group reportedly added, but said it still expected full-year sales to rise, helped by the re-launch of its revamped A-class small car in September.

“We are still on course for the full year with the current sales figures for all Mercedes-Benz model series,” Joachim Schmidt, the division’s head of sales and marketing, said in a statement cited by Reuters.

The company reportedly said over 35,000 customers had already placed orders for the new A-class car that hits the market in September, meaning it was more than two-thirds of the way towards reaching its 2004 sales target of 50,000 units.

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Metzler Bank analyst Juergen Pieper called the Mercedes sales numbers a letdown, Reuters said.

“There are some signs that the market position of Mercedes keeps weakening and this is something you have to watch. Although expectations were not that high this year for Mercedes, it still seems to be disappointing,” he reportedly said.

The company will have a real problem meeting its targets if the A-class rollout is not a success, Pieper added, according to Reuters.