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Mercedes Probably Won’t Win U.S. Luxury Race, CEO Says

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July 13 (Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz probably won’t win the U.S. luxury car sales race this year, Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said.

“I don’t think we’ll be No. 1 at the end of the year and that’s OK,” Zetsche told reporters yesterday in Seguin, Ontario. “We won’t play any games. I’m not sure that applies to our competition.”

Mercedes led Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW in U.S. deliveries by 1,519 vehicles after the first six months. BMW captured the crown the past two years and secured the No. 1 spot in 2012 with a December surge, based on reported sales. Measured by vehicle registrations, Mercedes topped BMW for the year, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co.

Zetsche, 60, wants Mercedes to surpass BMW and Volkswagen AG’s Audi in worldwide sales and profit by 2020. In the first quarter, Mercedes’s operating profit was 3.3 percent of sales, compared with 11.1 percent for Audi and 9.9 percent for BMW. The CEO was in Canada for the North American introduction of the revamped S-Class sedan.

U.S. sales for Mercedes for the year through June gained 10 percent to 141,950, Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler said July 2. BMW said its deliveries for the period rose 11 percent to 140,431. The figures don’t include Daimler’s cargo vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Clothier in Seguin, Ontario at mclothier@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net