Daimler sales, profits rise on C-Class, SUVs

David McHugh
Associated Press

Frankfurt, Germany — Booming demand for Mercedes-Benz luxury cars in China helped boost third-quarter profits at German automaker Daimler.

The Stuttgart-based company saw a 39 percent increase in sales of its luxury brand there despite fears that the Chinese economy may be slowing after years of rapid growth.

The company said Thursday it had a strong sales contribution from its new C-Class sedan and its SUV models. Sales of Mercedes-Benz cars rose also strongly in European markets led by Britain, Italy and Spain.

Chief financial officer Bodo Uebber credited the company’s efforts to renew and broaden its model line and the increased profits and sales figures show that “we have the right products in the market.”

Uebber said on a conference call with reporters that the company was not seeing customers turn away from vehicles with diesel engines.

Competitor Volkswagen is facing fines and lost sales after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it had installed engine control software that could detect when the vehicle was being tested, and adjust controls accordingly.

Uebber said Daimler was seeing “no hesitation” among customers and said it was confident in its diesel technology.

There has been speculation that the Volkswagen scandal could lead customers to turn away from diesels in general.

Revenues rose 13 percent to 37.3 billion euros. Profits rose 31 percent to 3.6 billion euros, measured before financial items and excluding the 1.0 billion sales of the Rolls-Royce stake a year ago.

Net profit fell 14 percent to 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in the third quarter, due to a large one-time gain a year ago from selling a stake in ship engine maker Rolls-Royce Power Systems Holding.

Daimler’s net profit figure for the July-September quarter beat estimates for 2.1 billion euros among analysts surveyed by financial information provider FactSet.