FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Automaker Daimler AG says its net profit rose slightly in the second quarter as its Mercedes-Benz luxury car business boomed but profits lagged at its truck, van and bus businesses.
The company affirmed its outlook for the year and emphasized the importance of diesel engines in the face of public controversy over the technology, saying diesel would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The company reported Wednesday that net profit was up 2 percent compared to a year ago, to 2.51 billion euros ($2.9 billion) from 2.45 billion euros. Revenue increased 7 percent to 41.16 billion euros ($48 billion).
The earnings were overshadowed to a significant extent by public discussion of the future of diesel and what to do about excessive pollution emissions. The government has summoned carmakers to a diesel summit on Aug. 2 to try to lower pollution levels and ensure the technology has a future. There have been calls for diesel bans in several German cities.
CEO Dieter Zetsche said during a conference call with journalists that the company's new generation of diesel engines offered lower emissions and that diesel can make an important contribution to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.
He said he saw "no reason to forego the advantages" of diesel in reaching goals for lowering carbon dioxide emissions. Diesels need emissions controls to limit harmful nitrogen oxides but emit less carbon dioxide than gasoline motors.
Der Spiegel reported Friday that German automakers including Daimler had colluded for years on diesel technology and other issues and had agreed to limit the size of the tanks for the urea solution used to reduce emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides. Daimler has announced it will update engine software on 3 million cars to improve their emissions performance and reduce uncertainty about the technology. Zetsche said customers were responding positively to the service action.
The Mercedes division had its best quarter for unit sales ever, with 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in operating profit. That was a 70 percent jump from last year, when the company took a 440 million euro charge for recalls of cars equipped with defective airbags made by supplier Takata.
Mercedes division profits were boosted by strong sales of the E-Class, which is equipped with extensive driver assistance technology, and of the company's SUVs, which bring high profits per vehicle.
Operating earnings fell 13 percent in its truck business, and also lagged at the van and bus divisions.
The company reiterated that profits would "increase significantly" once again in 2017.