DaimlerChrysler has cut its 2005 vehicle sales target for the Mercedes-Benz brand in Germany and said now predicts unit sales down nearly 7% in its most important market.

A DC spokeswoman told Reuters the Mercedes-Benz brand now expected to sell 315,000 passenger cars in Germany, compared with 338,100 units a year ago.

In August, Daimler had forecast roughly flat sales for Mercedes-Benz in its German home market, the news agency noted.

Reuters added that unit sales in Germany by the Mercedes Car Group division – which includes Smart minicars and Maybach luxury limousines – fell 5.4% in the first nine months of 2005 to 258,000 vehicles.

The decline reportedly stemmed from model changeovers for the M-Class off-roader and S-Class executive car and from image problems linked to quality issues for the E-Class car.

A problem with faulty diesel pumps early this year also caused delays in deliveries, Reuters added.