Weak Global Markets Depress Daimler Truck Sales in 2016
Daimler Trucks’ unit sales of 415,100 vehicles in 2016 were substantially lower than the high prior-year figure (2015: 502,500), according to financial data released by Daimler AG. Revenue decreased to €33.2 billion (2015: €37.6 billion). The division’s EBIT of €1,948 million was significantly below the high level of €2,576 million achieved in the previous year. Return on sales was 5.9% (2015: 6.9%).
The negative development of earnings was primarily the result of sharply decreased unit sales in the NAFTA region, Turkey, the Middle East, Latin America and Indonesia. Earnings were also reduced by intense competition in Europe. The realization of efficiency and material-cost improvements and exchange-rate effects had a positive impact on earnings. EBIT also includes expenses of €91 million for workforce adjustments in the context of the ongoing optimization programs in Brazil.
Mercedes-Benz Vans achieved another sales record in 2016. The number of 359,100 units sold was 12% higher than in 2015. Revenue of €12.8 billion was also significantly higher than in the previous year (2015: €11.5 billion). EBIT of €1,170 million set a new record level (2015: €880 million). The division’s return on sales also increased significantly compared with the previous year to 9.1%, and was thus at the targeted level (2015: 7.7%).
Demand for medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the regions relevant for Daimler is likely to remain at the rather weak prior-year level. In the NAFTA region, the cyclical market correction can be expected to continue. In weight classes 6-8, it must be assumed that demand will decrease by approximately 5% after the significant drop in 2016. In the heavy-duty segment (class 8), the weakening of demand is likely to be rather more pronounced.
The market of the EU30 region temporarily peaked last year, according to current assessments. In a rather more restrained economic environment than last year, truck sales are expected to decrease slightly. After the end of the deep economic recession in Brazil, only a slight recovery of the truck market from a very low level can be expected there. And after last year’s dramatic slump in Turkey, a further slight decrease is anticipated. Starting from a very low level, significant recovery of demand is to be expected in Russia.
The most important Asian markets from Daimler’s perspective are likely to present a mixed picture in 2017. As the Japanese market for light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks has remained at a relatively solid level for several years, a market correction of about 5% is now expected. Following the significant drops in demand of recent years in Indonesia, the overall truck market there is expected to be in the magnitude of 2016. Slight market expansion is anticipated for India. The planned reform of value-added tax, which would significantly reduce truck prices, could have a positive impact on demand during the year. The Chinese market should remain fairly stable, following its strong growth of 2016.
Daimler expects a slight increase in demand for small, mid-size and large vans in the EU30 region in 2017, driven in particular by the German van market, but also by other major European markets. In the United States, demand for large vans is likely to remain fairly stable. On the other hand, the market for mid-size and large vans in Latin America should revive significantly in 2017, although from a very low level. In China, a revival of demand is anticipated in the market Daimler addresses there.
Daimler expects slight growth in the market for buses in the EU30 region compared with 2016. The market development in Latin America continues to be negatively impacted by the current economic situation in Argentina and Brazil. After the significant drop in demand of recent years, it is assumed that the market bottomed out in 2016. Daimler anticipates a significant recovery in the year 2017, especially in Brazil, but the market volume will continue to be at a very low level.