Daimler Sees Danger of Global Economy Slipping Into Recession

Daimler AG, the world’s largest maker of heavy-duty trucks, sees a risk that waning confidence may drag the slowing global economy into a recession.

“The most severe threat right now is that the current crisis of confidence persists and feeds itself, turning the already visible slowdown in the global economy into an outright recession,” Andreas Renschler, Daimler’s trucks chief, said today in a presentation prepared for the Tokyo Motor Show.

Truckmakers are bracing for softer demand in Europe because of the debt crisis. Volvo AB, which makes Mack trucks in the U.S. and ranks second behind Daimler globally, won’t extend temporary contracts in 2012 for 400 to 450 workers as it trims European production. Volvo predicted the region’s heavy-truck market will contract by 10 percent next year.

“We are monitoring the developments very closely, but we don’t see any reason for panic,” said Renschler. “We know we’ve got the strength and flexibility to manage the economic ups and downs.”

Daimler, based in Stuttgart, Germany, owns Japan’s Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. Last month, it predicted that the unit’s 2011 truck sales will beat last year’s 141,000 vehicles because of growth in Asia and Brazil, even after the March earthquake in Japan damaged factories and halted production.

The company’s global truck division recorded a 12 percent increase in earnings before interest and taxes in the third quarter, fueled by a 74 percent surge in deliveries in North America, where Daimler operates the Freightliner brand. The German manufacturer, which makes Mercedes-Benz vehicles, is also the world’s third-largest maker of luxury cars.

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