Jan 13 - Two of Germany's top carmakers are looking to the U.S. for sales and in a bid to ramp up global production as the European car market continues to struggle. Sonia Legg reports
The European car market is still struggling. No surprise then that Germany's top car makers are looking to the US for growth - Daimler launching its latest Mercedes model ahead of the Detroit auto show. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF DAIMLER AG AND HEAD OF MERCEDES-BENZ CARS, DIETER ZETSCHE SAYING: "Sales in the Mercedes brand were up 14 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year. Our share of the luxury market is among our highest in history. Almost one in every five luxury vehicles sold here (United States) is a Mercedes." Mercedes produces two thirds of its cars in Germany. But 80% of its sales come from outside the country. CEO Dieter Zetsche says a new North American factory may be a way to ramp up global production capacity. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF DAIMLER AG AND HEAD OF MERCEDES-BENZ CARS, DIETER ZETSCHE SAYING: "The U.S. market is the market where we are selling the most C-Classes of any market so it makes sense to add to production side to this country to be as flexible and fast to customer demand as possible." Europe's largest automaker is also looking to the US. Volkswagen is planning to make a sport utility vehicle especially for North American drivers. It's investing $7 billion in the region. And hopes to sell 1 million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles in the United States by 2018. The group, which also owns Porsche, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Skoda and Seat, only sold 600,000 cars there in 2013.