• “Doing business efficiently and growing profitably – those are two sides of the same coin.”

“Doing business efficiently and growing profitably – those are two sides of the same coin.”

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About 2.2 million times – that’s how often people around the world opted for a vehicle from your company last year; more than ever before. Revenue was also the highest in our history. Net profit amounted to 6.5 billion euros. Based on these results, the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board will propose the distribution of a dividend at last year’s high level of 2.20 euros per share so that you continue to benefit from the Daimler Group’s success.

What were the most important developments at our divisions?

At Mercedes-Benz Cars, we achieved record sales in 2012. Our new products performed especially well. The new A-Class was our most successful market launch of all time: Its conquest rate is already 40 percent, meaning that two out of every five A-Class customers previously drove another brand. Our B-Class and sport-utility vehicles also sold better than ever before in 2012. In addition, our M-Class was the market leader in its segment. The same was true for our S-Class – for the eighth year in a row and in spite of the forthcoming model changeover this year.

At Daimler Trucks, our global orientation bore fruit: Despite what were in part weaker markets, we were able once more to significantly increase our total sales. At the same time, we expanded our product portfolio around the world. In Europe, with our Mercedes-Benz Antos, we launched our first truck specifically for heavy-duty distribution. At the same time, we introduced the Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid, the most economical hybrid truck in the world. In India, our new truck brand BharatBenz made a successful start; and in China, we began local production of trucks under the Auman brand in our joint venture with Foton.

At Mercedes-Benz Vans, the upward sales trend in North and Latin America somewhat offset the weakness in our key Western European market, but could not fully compensate for it. Therefore, it’s all the more important that we develop new market segments: And that’s exactly what we’re doing with our new Citan city van.

Daimler Buses was once again the market leader in the segment of buses above 8 tons in its core markets. However, in Latin America we were confronted with very low demand for our bus chassis. As a result, total unit sales of buses decreased. Also in this division, we are countering weak markets with strong new products, such as the Mercedes-Benz Citaro Euro VI and a new generation of travel coaches from our top Setra brand.

Daimler Financial Services can look back on yet another successful year. New business and contract volume set new records. In Asia in particular, we continued to expand our service offerings. We are ahead worldwide with our new flexible mobility services as well. That’s true for our established services such as “car2go” and for additional services like “moovel” – an innovative new platform that networks different modes of transportation.

That all goes to make one thing clear: 2012 was a year of many successes. But it’s also true that not all of our goals have yet been achieved. We can do much more – and we’ll prove that in the coming years.

Although growth forecasts for key markets in 2013 are rather moderate, the dynamic in the world vehicle market should significantly pick up in the long term – mainly driven by China, India and other large emerging markets.

Against this backdrop, we have launched comprehensive product offensives in all of our divisions: We’re expanding our model portfolio, entering new segments and fully meeting regional differences in customer needs. In this way, we aim to be Number One for premium automobiles also in terms of unit sales by 2020 at the latest. With trucks, we will continue to build on our current leadership position. Altogether, this constitutes the biggest growth story in our company’s history: We are growing at a faster pace, on a broader front and in more markets than ever before.

Four strategic growth themes run through our entire Group and every single business area:

  • the strengthening of our core business in traditional markets;
  • the development of new markets (including the requisite expansion of our research and development, production and distribution networks);
  • the continued expansion of our leadership position in “green” technologies (including electric mobility) and in safety;
  • and the introduction of fundamentally new mobility concepts based on innovation at the interfaces of mobility and digital networking.

Key to all of this is that we don’t want to grow “at any price,” but with sustainable profitability. That’s why the growth strategies of all our divisions have an efficiency program as a central component: At our car division, we’re adding “Fit for Leadership” to “Mercedes-Benz 2020;” Daimler Trucks started the next phase of our “Global Excellence” growth strategy with “Daimler Trucks #1”.

In this way, we will ensure that we are profitable even under difficult market conditions and that we maintain our financial strength for continued future investments. In a parallel effort, we are also pressing forward with structural improvements to our global business systems: Doing business efficiently and growing profitably – those are two sides of the same coin.

I’d like to thank you, our shareholders, for your trust and support. We also owe thanks to our employees. They are the ones who make a difference with their professional expertise and personal dedication. Superior performance is not a question of race, gender or age. That’s why we promote diversity in our workforce, the professional development of highly qualified women and the management training of local executives.

Finally, sustained success requires a solid ethical foundation. What does that mean exactly? That is something thousands of Daimler employees throughout the Group, of all ranks and at all levels, have discussed as part of our “Integrity Dialog.” The result: Virtually everyone wants clear rules, responsible behavior and mutual respect. That has flowed into our new “Code of Conduct.” The consensus was also that, as much as guidelines serve as important “safety belts,” they cannot replace the “inner compass” that keeps us on course and acting responsibly, even where there are no clear rules.

In any case, the same goes for our corporate culture as it does for all of the Daimler Group: We are on the right track and will continue to move forward. We look forward to you accompanying us into the future.

Sincerely,

 

Dieter Zetsche