Daimler AG (DAI) Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche is considering ways to raise capacity as consumers snatch up new Mercedes-Benz models as fast as the automaker can build them.
“Not everybody is in as favorable a situation as we are, that we can hardly produce as many cars as customers are asking for,” Zetsche told reporters today at the Geneva auto show. “Our product offensive is really just starting to take off.”
Zetsche is looking in the short term at how to reduce bottlenecks in production, and considering adding extra shifts to manufacture more cars. The CEO said last month that in every market he visits he receives pleas from dealers for more of the German manufactuer’s compacts such as the new CLA coupe.
Zetsche, who has a goal of surpassing Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) and Audi AG to become the world’s biggest maker of luxury cars by 2020, is rolling out 30 new vehicles by the end of the decade, a dozen of which will have no predecessor. Building all these models will entail adding new production capabilities, he said today.
“North America is a feasible location for such an additional plant,” the CEO told reporters, adding that a decision hasn’t yet been made. Mercedes was the top seller of luxury cars in the U.S. last year and has extended that lead in January and February.
Mercedes is benefiting from demand for small cars such as the CLA, A-Class and B-Class, as well a revamp of the flagship S-Class sedan. Zetsche showed a coupe version of the S-Class today in Geneva. Mercedes this year will also bring to market a new version of the C-Class, its best seller, and the GLA compact sport-utility vehicle, which has no predecessor.
For the first time since 2010, Stuttgart-based Mercedes last year posted a higher sales-growth rate globally than BMW, and in the final months of 2013 grew faster than Volkswagenb AG’s Audi brand. Mercedes’s full-year deliveries increased 11 percent, compared with Audi’s 8.3 percent increase and the BMW brand’s 7.5 percent advance. Mercedes continued the momentum in January, growing faster than both its two main German rivals.
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