By on June 8, 2011

And finally in our series of Teutonic luxo-barges: the boys from Stuttgart. For long, Daimler used to look down their noses at the boorish upstarts from BMW, and even more so at – ach du mein Lieber – Audi.

Daimler better get used to looking up. Despite record sales in May, Mercedes-Benz takes the #3 step on the podium, both in May and YTD. The race is close, but Mercedes is getting a bit short-winded.  In May, the starred brand delivered a total of 108,766 passenger vehicles to customers worldwide, up 7.3 percent. YTD, the tally stands 490,021 units, up 10.5 percent.

Joachim Schmidt, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing is hoping that the new M-Class, which debuts this week, will put some fire under the sales. “Beginning in fall, the pace of our growth will be further increased by the new M-Class, which will help us reach our goal of making 2011 the best year in our company’s history,” Schmidt said. “We want to sell more than 1.3 million Mercedes-Benz cars and smart fortwo overall.”

Both in  Europe and in the U.S., Mercedes is treading water in the single digits. In China on the other hand, dealers can’t keep up with the demand. Sales in the Middle Kingdom were up 43.1 percent in May and 62 percent YTD. The smart did not make much impact. It stays at less than 10 percent of unit sales of the group. Maybach wasn’t mentioned. Running the spreadsheet, there is no difference between “Mercedes-Benz Cars” and the total of Mercedes-Benz and smart, so we didn’t even ask.

Mercedes-Benz Cars  May 2011 Results

May ’11 Growth YTD ’11 Growth
Mercedes-Benz Cars 118,931 7.4% 534,508 10.3%
Mercedes-Benz 108,766 7.3% 490,021 10.5%
smart 10,165 8.6% 44,487 8.1%
By market
Western Europe 50,355 -1.6% 219,782 1.4%
Germany 24,647 -0.2% 96,266 0.8%
NAFTA 22,353 2.7% 104,085 5.2%
U.S.A. 18,886 1.8% 90,274 5.7%
Asia/Pacific 26,505 27.6% 124,995 35.5%
Japan 2,325 15.5% 11,274 -4.9%
China 16,401 43.1% 75,896 62.0%
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19 Comments on “Mercedes In May: Third Place...”


  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    That’s what happens when you let your quality go to hell. Just ask Detroit.

    Memories of disappointing vehicles linger long in the consumers mind — particularly amongst those directly burned.

    Even if both of them get their quality / reliability up to Asian levels, it’ll take years, if not decades, to get their reputations back.

  • avatar
    eldard

    Daimler should just stick to what it does best, corner the market for cars above 50 grand. Stop chasing numbers and leave the impoverished entry level segments to BMW and Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Don’t forget about their Commercial vehicle division. Daimler makes a boat load from trucks, buses, and vans.

      Bertel, just wondering if the commercial division is more profitable than the consumer one?

    • 0 avatar

      The retreat upmarket is a certain way to bankrupcy and they know it. Once started in earnest it cannot be arrested as the company tastes the fatter profit margins on top of a shrinking market share. Once retreating past $50k barrier, you retreat past $80k… $100k… and then you only sell Maybachs, get bankrupt, and bought by a Tata or BYD.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    While perhaps not relevant to this discussion, it is still noteworthy that most heads of state, except the French, the Brits and ours, all prefer to ride in Mercedes, as opposed to BMWs, Lexus, or Renault. If they cannot get one, they drive Audis. German cars have a cachet which is hard to beat (Cry your heart out Carlos Gone!). BMW would be there too, were it not for their focus on performance. Heads of State want security and safety above performance.

    Now CEO’s who work in unfriendly environments, read Latin America, they too prefer the Germans, with chauffeurs trained in evasive maneuvers that would turn a Renault on its roof.

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      It’s quite ironic that France, the biggest producer of luxury goods, doesn’t have a single luxury car.

      And no, the Veyron is about as French as Harry Potter.

      • 0 avatar
        kitzler

        If you think about it, most French luxury stuff is for women, as mysogene as some French people appear (read DSK fiasco), no they don’t know how to make luxury cars or watches, or even suits for men, Hugo Boss is German and Brioni is Italian. The Italians by the way know how to make luxury sports cars, but not sedans.

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        Well there’s Cartier.

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      The movers and shakers of the world drive (or are driven in) a Benz. People who work for them drive BMWs and Audis. As do peasant yuppies.

      • 0 avatar
        Robbie

        And Prince William and Kate Middleton used a carriage drawn by five horses on their wedding day. The Mercedes is a symbol, comparable to a crown on a head of state; but ideally you also want to have a competitive car to back up this symbolic value.

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        A very useful symbol. Their flagship didn’t earn the moniker “the best car in the world” for nothing. Leaders would be loathe to ride in a car that didn’t have crumple zones. One can only imagine the damage to the occupants should a Cadillac hit a proletariat.

        Or in a car that didn’t have double-glazed windshield. Else how are they gonna plot about further oppressing their citizens with that distracting BMW noise? And up until the W124 was discontinued Mercedes was the most reliable make. You don’t want to be stranded and be forced to see the favelas with your own eyes, do you? It’s utterly barbaric to have to see those barbarians up close!

      • 0 avatar
        kitzler

        sorry to say, bought my wife a Cartier. One day she washed her hands and water got under the crystal. When confronted Cartier told us, our watches are not waterproof, you call that luxury, at least my MB never leaked when it rained.

  • avatar
    Speed_3

    I’m so over MB. And honestly I hope they sink to 4th, 5th, or beyond. They have made so many mistakes (Chrysler, Smart, Maybach, etc) that they almost deserve to lose the sales race. I certainly hope their recent partnership with Renault-Nissan doesn’t throw Infiniti under a bus!

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      Personally I hope Lexus sales continue to tank so they’ll be forced to make exciting cars. As one reviewer of the LFA puts it, if they keep doing that they’d be unbeatable. It’s time to put the Germans in their place. But seeing as how long it took them to create the LFA from concept to production I doubt that’s gonna happen anytime soon.

      I really think you can’t have both German excitability and Japanese reliability. Not without spending billions anyway. Concentrate on one or the other, you don’t have much of choice. IIRC it took $600 million (that’s 1980s dollars) to develop the legendary W124. And a billion to develop the W140. And even then it failed to garner higher scores than the first gen LS (which also cost Toyota a billion.) And we all know what happened to the legendary Merc reliability after the W124 was replaced.

      Porsche, which keeps trailing Lexus on reliability surveys, has both. But that’s probably because they don’t spend much on exterior design.

  • avatar
    jimboy

    While I admit to prejudice where Daimler is concerned, especially their treatment of Chrysler, the company has shot itself in the foot. It is one of the less innovative luxury auto makers, reactive, not pro-active, hasn’t come out with anything groundbreaking or breathtaking for years.(or even very interesting) It’s been involved in several bribery felonies, the engineers are so full of their own b.s. it’s shameful, considering that a lot of their new product was (stolen) excuse me, co-developed with Chrysler, along with their cash. Look at Smart,Fail, Maybach, Fail, White Trucks, Fail, Chrysler, Fail. Who could possibly want their product, other than poseurs and wannabes? Daimler should stick to Mercedes-Benz cars and accept that they will never be a world player in any other arena, they just don’t have the know-how, and even if they did, their overweening arrogance would do them in anyways. I’ll cry no tears over Daimler’s bad fortune, it’s self-induced.

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      It was an honor to be raped by Daimler. The sooner Chrysler admits that, the sooner they can move on.

      • 0 avatar
        jimboy

        They have, into third place in U.S. sales, overall, not just one segment, No thanks to Daimler. Read the news. I doubt Daimler even makes it to the top ten, overall.

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        They can thank the Japanese earthquake. And apples to oranges. you can’t really compare cattle-class car segments against the I-can’t-afford-to-buy-a-3-series-so-I’ll-just-lease-it yuppie segment.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    If there is one guy responsible for the so called demise of DB, it is Juergen Schrimp, no I did not misspell that South African Idiot’s name, how he got to be so high for so long is a mystery. Got to remember, Daimler was on the leading edge of design in the 80’s and even early 90’s. Daimler design was always a couple of years ahead of the competition. One thing you must admit, neither DB, BMW or Audi change the looks of their cars, except to make them look more fluid, more up to date, not like some renaults or US car designs that change for the sake of change.

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