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DAIMLER TARGETS SALES GROWTH AT DOUBLE CAR MARKET'S EXPANSION

By NBF NEWS
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Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes- Benz cars and trucks, aims to increase deliveries twice as fast as the world's auto market grows this year as the latest versions of its E-Class and S-Class sedans attract buyers.

'Our global sales target for the year is ambitious but realistic,' Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in a statement distributed at the annual shareholders meeting in Berlin.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Global car-industry deliveries will increase three per cent to four per cent this year, Daimler said in February. The Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer is seeking to close the gap with luxury-car market leader Bayerische Motoren Werke AG while fending off efforts by Volkswagen AG's Audi division to become the world's biggest high-end automaker by 2011. Zetsche didn't specify Daimler's car-sales target for this year.

Daimler is targeting earnings before interest and taxes of at least £2.3bn this year after an Ebit loss of £1.51bn in 2009. The manufacturer forecast on February 18 that revenue in 2010 will exceed last year's £78.9bn but be 'significantly' below the 98.5 billion euros of 2008.

Sales at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division, which includes the Smart minicar and Maybach luxury nameplates, rose 11 per cent to 271,200 vehicles in the first quarter, the company said on April 6. Including deliveries to dealers, sales at the Mercedes- Benz brand increased by almost 27 per cent in the period, Daimler said.

Daimler rose as much as 40 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to 36.40 euros and was up 0.4 per cent as of 9:17 a.m. in Frankfurt trading. The stock has declined three per cent this year.

The manufacturer, seeking to expand its line-up of small cars while holding back costs, announced plans on April 7 to cooperate with the Renault-Nissan alliance on developing compact Mercedes and Smart vehicles.

A new line of Smart city cars, including two- and four-seat versions, will share a platform with Renault SA's Twingo. The French partner will supply 3- and 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines for Mercedes-Benz cars.