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Daimler Forecasts Truck Sales Growth With Orders Into Next Year

Daimler AG, the world’s largest maker of heavy-duty vehicles, expects truck sales to keep growing, even as economies show signs of cooling, as customers order vehicles into next year.

Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler sold 39,090 trucks in August, the highest monthly level of deliveries since late 2008, Andreas Renschler, head of the Daimler Trucks division, said today. Eight-month sales rose 18 percent to 259,618 units.

“The trend is unequivocally positive,” Renschler told reporters at a briefing in Muensingen, Germany, where Daimler presented a revamped version of its long-haul Actros model. “By and large, signs we’re getting from customers are encouraging.”

Daimler forecasts its own truck sales will increase annually by about 14 percent to over 500,000 vehicles by 2013 as the company expands in China, Russia and India, Renschler said. The European market as a whole may grow 35 percent to 40 percent this year, while the U.S. may expand 30 percent to 35 percent.

“So far we’re not feeling a strong impact” from slowing economies, the executive said, noting that Daimler wants to increase its return on sales to 8 percent by 2013 from 6.9 percent in the first half.

European sales of heavy trucks weighing 16 tons or more surged 56 percent in the first six months to almost 120,000, powered by growth in markets including Germany, France and the U.K., the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said.

Renschler said Daimler’s position on Fiat SpA’s Iveco truckmaking unit is “unchanged,” noting that there are no talks about acquiring Iveco as the German manufacturer has “other interests.”

Larger Stake

Daimler may over time decide to expand its holding in OAO KamAZ, depending on how conditions in Russia develop, the executive said. Daimler currently owns 15 percent of the Russian truckmaker.

“I cannot rule out that in ten years time we may perhaps hold 60, 70 or 80 percent,” Renschler said.

Daimler expects to win final approval from the Chinese government to start a joint venture with Beiqi Foton Motor Co. by the end of this year. Cooperation with Beiqi Foton may allow the truckmaker to build over 100,000 of the Auman truck per year, he said.

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