Mercedes sales drop in Europe as new emissions testing regime creates backlog

Mercedes-Benz Production At Bremen Factory
Backlogs caused by stricter European emissions tests have hit Mercedes sales (Source: Getty)

European sales of Mercedes-Benz plummeted in September as the firm battled a vehicle testing backlog.

Globally the company sold eight per cent less last month, with Europe especially badly hit, dropping by almost a tenth.

Producers have been hit by a backlog caused by new European testing standards introduced on 1 September.

Mercedes was particularly affected after being forced to recall almost 800,000 vehicles with illegal software to hide diesel emissions.

The German carmaker said sales in its domestic market have decreased by nearly 17 per cent.

Barclays analyst Kristina Church told City A.M.: “Most of the drop in the sale of Mercedes can be ascribed to the new WLTP testing cycle introduced on 1 September, which has a large backlog. However, this should go back to normal by the end of the year.”

Car makers knew about the cycle in advance, but had not fully factored in how tough and complicated it would be, Church said.

Daimler board member Britta Seeger said: “It is our goal to ensure that our customers can enjoy receiving their new vehicles as soon as possible – and this is exactly what our teams are currently working on intensively.”

However, the company fared better in its Asian market, increasing sales by eight per cent in the first nine months of the year.

In China it set an all-time record for September, and sales increased by 13 per cent in the first nine months.

“In China, Mercedes is doing better than the underlying market as premium demand is still strong. The company has, however, been impacted by the latest tariffs on cars produced in the US and imported to China,” Church said.

The carmaker’s SUV lines are also doing well, selling over 610,000 sold since the beginning of the year.

Daimler announced Sunday finance chief Bodo Uebber will step down when his contract expires in December 2019.

A board member for the past fifteen years, Uebber was tipped as a potential successor to CEO Dieter Zetsche who steps down in May.

However, the company confirmed late last month current head of Mercedes-Benz vehicle development Ola Källenius will take the role.

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