Daimler to Invest $4.2 Billion in China

Company says China will become the top market for Mercedes-Benz cars between 2014 and 2016, eclipsing Germany and the United States

To boost production of Mercedes-Benz cars in the world's biggest auto market, Daimler said on Oct. 22 that it plans to invest three billion euros (US$4.2 billion) in China by 2015.

Daimler also aims to increase sales in China to 300,000 units a year in the next five years, compared with an estimated 120,000 units in 2010, said CEO Dieter Zetsche.

"This year we originally planned to sell 100,000 units -- that has been accomplished after three quarters," said Zetsche. "On that basis our target of 300,000 in 2015 becomes even more realistic."

Zetsche said he hoped that at least 70% of the 300,000 cars would be produced in China, compared with around 30% currently.

"We have to invest heavily to get there," he said.

Zetsche added China, where demand for high-end vehicles is growing thanks to an expanding middle class, should become Daimler's top market for Mercedes-Benz cars between 2014 and 2016, eclipsing Germany and the United States.

Audi and BMW currently out-sell Daimler in China.

Audi hopes to sell more than 200,000 cars in the country this year and around 300,000 starting in 2012 or a year later.

BMW sold nearly 122,000 vehicles in China in the first nine months.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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