The Daimler Trucks division was also very successful with its strong product portfolio; according to preliminary figures, it sold about 107,000 vehicles from January through March of this year (plus 20%). A major contribution came from Daimler Trucks North America with growth of 41%. Fuso also continued its positive development in Japan, while unit sales in Europe and Latin America decreased by 5%.
From today's perspective, the division anticipates further growth in unit sales in 2012. In any case, the new Actros is likely to gain market share in the euro zone. The opening of a new plant in Chennai, India in the next few days will be an important step towards conquering new sales markets. As of the third quarter, trucks will be produced specifically for the Indian market under the "BharatBenz" brand.
The Mercedes-Benz Vans division's core markets developed as follows in the first three months of the year: Unit sales increased by 23% in North America and by 10% in Latin America, despite the upcoming model change for the Sprinter in the latter market. In Europe, however, unit sales decreased by 8%. The division is nonetheless confident for the full year that it will maintain the level of unit sales in the euro zone that it achieved in 2011. As of September, sales will be stimulated by the new Citan city van, following its debut at Germany's IAA international motor show for commercial vehicles in that month. This new small van targets a segment with a total volume of about 700,000 vehicles per annum, of which Mercedes-Benz Vans intends to take a market share of 4 to 5%.
Daimler Buses sold about 5,000 units in the first quarter, lower than the prior-year number. According to preliminary figures, Daimler Financial Services smoothly continued its business development of 2011 and increased its new business to euro 8.2 billion in the first quarter of this year. The division's contract volume remained at a record level.Based on the divisions' development, Zetsche affirmed the forecasts for 2012: The Group expects its total unit sales to increase again significantly along with further revenue growth. The target for EBIT from the ongoing business is the high level of the prior year (2011: euro 9.0 billion). Achieving sustained growth through innovation The motto of this year's Annual Shareholders' Meeting, "Growth and Innovation," brings together two topics of fundamental importance for the future of the Daimler Group. By 2020, the annual global vehicle market should have growth by approximately 40 million to about 120 million units. "The question is not whether this growth will take place, but how it can be made sustainable," said Zetsche. He believes that innovation has the potential to convert growth into prosperity. "Where that occurs, growth will be ecologically compatible and productive for both society and the economy," explained Zetsche.