STUTTGART, Germany -- Mercedes-Benz AG said yesterday that revenue rose to a higher-than-forecast $50 billion this year as new models spurred record sales of its luxury cars and commercial vehicles.
nTC The Daimler-Benz AG unit said preliminary figures indicate that more than 640,000 cars were sold and 345,000 trucks, vans and buses. Last year, Mercedes sold 590,200 cars and 320,000 commercial vehicles.
The better-than-expected figures will bring a higher operating profit, Chief Executive Helmut Werner said, without offering a specific forecast.
Werner said cost-cutting measures and more efficient production systems for new Mercedes models are helping the company cash in on strong demand.
"The big surprise is how well sales have gone this year," said Juergen Giese, the chief analyst at Georg Hauck & Sohn Bankiers. "It's astounding that 1996 turned into a good year for the auto in- dustry because, at the beginning, everyone was very pessimistic."
New models have been the key to Mercedes' success, stimulating demand and bringing increased production efficiency, Werner said.
This year, the redesigned E-Class resumed its position as Mercedes' best selling car, toppling the smaller C-Class. Demand for the SLK convertible roadster prompted the company to boost production to 47,000 cars next year.
The company also introduced new station wagon models for its C-Class and E-Class cars, the V-Class minivans, the new Vito and Vario vans and the Actros heavy truck.
Pub Date: 12/28/96