Daimler Expects Continued Growth

Daimler posted a strong recovery in 2010 and expects continued growth as it works to expand market share outside of its traditional European base.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Daimler posted a strong recovery in 2010 and expects continued growth this year as it works to expand its market share in countries outside its traditional European base, the head of the German automaker said Tuesday.

Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler's board and head of its Mercedes-Benz cars division, said the automaker has done better than expected in the 18 months since the 2009 automotive crisis, crediting its strong product lineup and continued focus on emerging markets such as China.

"All together, things are going good for Daimler in all of our divisions, in all of our directions," Zetsche told reporters at a media roundtable in New York.

Daimler's first-quarter results included a doubling of its year-over-year profit largely due to strong Mercedes sales in China.

Still, the company has had to deal with several challenges in recent months including the European debt crisis, the earthquake in Japan and reports showing a weakened U.S. economy.

Zetsche said that while those events may be cause for some concern, Daimler remains very optimistic about its potential for sales growth in China and other emerging markets.

Zetsche added that the automaker remains focused on improving fuel efficiency across the board with electric and diesel technology. In addition, the automaker hopes to have a fuel cell vehicle on the road in 2014, if the infrastructure for fueling stations is in place by then.

The executive also said that Daimler hasn't given up on boosting sales of its Smart car in the United States. After strong initial demand when the tiny two-seater first hit U.S. shores in 2008, sales have dropped off. Zetsche said that in light of higher fuel prices, it's "the right product at the right time."

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