BMW, Daimler Car Sales Fall In June

FRANKFURT (AP) -- German luxury carmakers BMW and Daimler said their June sales slipped lower from a year ago, but the overall decline slowed. Both companies said they were cautiously optimistic that market may start to improve sooner than later.

Munich-based BMW AG said its group car sales for June dropped nearly 13 percent as the global recession continued to cut into demand, but the figure was an improvement on the 18 percent decline the maker of the 3-Series and Z4 roadster saw in May.

BMW, whose brands include Mini and Rolls Royce, sold, 127,546 cars in June, compared with 146,136 a year ago.

"There are the first indications of a slight recovery on the automobile markets. It remains to be seen whether this trend will be sustained," Ian Robertson, a BMW sales and marketing official said. "In the first half of the year, we were able to gain market share in the global premium segment, as we had planned."

BMW's sales were strong in China, which saw sales up 44 percent in June.

In the U.S., the world's largest car market, BMW saw sales decline more than 20 percent in June, although the company was able to increase its market share.

Stuttgart-based Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz Cars division saw 7 percent lower sales in June, an improvement from the 12 percent decline it reported in May.

The company said the Mercedes-Benz Cars groupĀ -- made up of the Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach brandsĀ -- sold 111,300 cars in June compared with 119,300 a year ago.

The Mercedes-Benz brand had 100,300 cars sold last month, a drop of 5.4 percent from last year, while Smart sold 11,000 cars for the month, a decline of 17 percent compared with June 2008.

"The development of sales in June exceeded our expectations," said Klaus Maier, a Daimler sales and marketing official in a statement.

"We expect to see our sales stabilize in the second half of 2009," he said.

Daimler said some of June's positive developments were partly because of the launch of its new E-Class sedan, adding that overall sales in general had recovered noticeably in "many western markets, while also continuing to develop positively in China."

Shares of BMW were 1.4 percent higher at euro26 ($36.40) while shares of Daimler were nearly 1 percent higher at euro24.80 in Frankfurt afternoon trading.

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