Después de varios meses de rumores y postergaciones, ahora es oficial: Mercedes-Benz canceló la producción de la pick-up Clase X en la Argentina. La marca alemana lo informó hoy en su reporte de resultados financieros internacionales.

"Después de revisar el business case y el alineamiento con los socios que cooperaban, se decidió no producir la Mercedes-Benz Clase X en la Argentina", informó Daimler en un comunicado de prensa.

El comunicado también menciona "las particulares condiciones económicas" que atraviesa la Argentina.

La Clase X se iba a producir en la planta cordobesa de Santa Isabel, donde Nissan Argentina invirtió 600 millones de dólares para fabricar las pick-ups Frontier (ya en producción), Alaskan (sin fecha cierta de lanzamiento) y Clase X (ahora cancelada).

Mercedes-Benz había acordado que Nissan fuera el proveedor de la pick-up, desarrollada sobre la base de la Frontier. La Argentina iba a ser la segunda planta en producir la Clase X, después de España, que ya está abasteciendo a Europa y buena parte de América Latina.

El comunicado oficial de Daimler pone fin a meses de rumores, durante los cuales sólo se informaba que el proyecto industrial estaba en "stand-by" ("en suspenso").

La Clase X tenía fecha de producción para comienzos de este año, pero eso nunca se concretó. Los roces entre Mercedes-Benz y Nissan comenzaron en junio del año pasado, tras la abrupta devaluación del peso argentino. Nissan quiso aumentar los costos de fabricación de la pick-up y Mercedes-Benz lo rechazó.

La cancelación de Mercedes-Benz abre dudas sobre el futuro de la línea de pick-ups en Santa Isabel. La Clase X iba a representar el 60% de la capacidad de producción de 70 mil unidades anuales en esa planta de Nissan-Renault.

Mercedes-Benz Argentina analiza ahora la posibilidad de importar algunas versiones tope de gama de la Clase X desde España.

Carlos Cristófalo

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Llegó un embarque con Mercedes-Benz Clase X españolas (y cruje la alianza con Nissan-Renault)
La historia completa de la fallida pick-up de Mercedes-Benz fabricada en la Argentina, en esta sección especial de Autoblog.

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Comunicado de prensa de Mercedes-Benz Daimler affirms 2019 targets for unit sales, revenue and earnings

Stuttgart First-quarter Group unit sales down 4% to 773,800 units
Revenue stable at €39.7 billion (Q1 2018: €39.8 billion) Group EBIT significantly lower at €2.8 billion (Q1 2018: €3.3 billion) Slight decrease in net profit to €2.1 billion (Q1 2018: €2.4 billion) Free cash flow of industrial business of minus €2.0 billion mainly due to higher inventories (Q1 2018: plus €1.8 billion)

Outlook for 2019: slight growth in unit sales, revenue and earnings still expected

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and
Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “We cannot and will not be satisfied with this – as expected – moderate start to the year. We now have to work hard to achieve our targets for 2019. Based on our sales planning and the countermeasures we have already initiated, we are confident that we will achieve those targets. In the first few months of this year, we have consistently implemented further elements of our strategy and initiated several important projects: our cooperation at smart with Geely, the development of a joint platform for autonomous driving, and the merger of the mobility services with those of the BMW Group."

Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Finance & Controlling and Daimler Financial Services: “We had a comparatively weak start to the year and face numerous challenges along the entire value chain in all our automotive divisions. This had a negative impact on unit sales and earnings. Above all, high inventories and bottlenecks in the supply chain had a substantial negative impact on the cash flow. Nonetheless, we will continue to invest in our future – sensibly and with a clear focus."

Stuttgart – Daimler AG (ticker symbol DAI) started the year in a challenging economic environment with stable revenue and moderate earnings in the first quarter. The Group’s total unit sales decreased by 4% to 773,800 passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Revenue amounted to €39.7 billion (Q1 2018: €39.8 billion). Also adjusted for positive exchange-rate changes, revenue remained at the prior-year level.

The Daimler Group achieved first-quarter EBIT of €2,802 million, well below the prior-year figure of €3,335 million. Net profit weakened only slightly to €2,149 million (Q1 2018: €2,354 million). Net profit attributable to the shareholders of Daimler AG amounted to €2,095 million (Q1 2018: €2,273 million), leading to a decline in earnings per share to €1.96 (Q1 2018: €2.12).

Earnings at all the automotive divisions decreased significantly compared with the first quarter of last year, while Daimler Financial Services benefited from a positive valuation effect. Earnings at Mercedes-Benz Cars were lower than in the prior-year quarter, due in particular to lower unit sales and changes in the sales structure. There was a negative impact on earnings at Daimler Trucks from additional costs, mainly resulting from higher raw-material prices and supply-chain bottlenecks. Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses posted negative earnings. At the van division, expenses in connection with the adjustment of production capacities as well as upfront expenditure for new technologies and products resulted in a loss for the period. At Daimler Buses, delivery delays due to a changed internal certification process for coaches and intercity buses had a negative impact. On the other hand, Daimler Financial Services’ EBIT increased substantially in the first quarter. This was mainly due to the merger of the mobility services of Daimler and the BMW Group, which had a positive effect on earnings of €718 million.

“We cannot and will not be satisfied with this – as expected – moderate start to the year. We now have to work hard to achieve our targets for 2019. Based on our sales planning and the countermeasures we have already initiated, we are confident that we will achieve those targets. In the first few months of this year, we have consistently implemented further elements of our strategy and initiated several important projects: our cooperation at smart with Geely, the development of a joint platform for autonomous driving, and the merger of the mobility services with those of the BMW Group,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Free cash flow and liquidity

The free cash flow of the industrial business resulted in a cash outflow of €2.0 billion in the first quarter of this year (Q1 2018: cash inflow of €1.8 billion). The sharp decrease resulted in particular from higher inventories, especially at Mercedes-Benz Cars as a result of model changes, as well as lower unit sales due to general market developments and constraints on vehicle availability in some international markets. In addition, the development of trade payables had a negative impact on working capital, especially at Daimler Trucks. In the Group investments in property, plant and equipment increased.

The net liquidity of the industrial business decreased by €3.2 billion to €13.1 billion at January 1, 2019. This was caused by the introduction of lessee accounting in accordance with IFRS 16 and the associated recognition and measurement of lease liabilities for outstanding rental payments. The net liquidity of the industrial business then decreased by a further €1.7 billion to €11.3 billion in the first three months of the year. The main reason for this was the negative free cash flow of the industrial business.

“We had a comparatively weak start to the year and face numerous challenges along the entire value chain in all our automotive divisions. This had a negative impact on unit sales and earnings. Above all, high inventories and bottlenecks in the supply chain had a substantial negative impact on the cash flow. Nonetheless, we will continue to invest in our future – sensibly and with a clear focus,” said Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Finance & Controlling and Daimler Financial Services.

The workforce

At the end of the first quarter, the Daimler Group employed 299,956 people worldwide (year-end 2018: 298,683, Q1 2018: 294,029). Of that total, 174,368 people worked in Germany (year-end 2018: 174,663, Q1 2018: 173,882), 26,444 in the United States (year-end 2018: 26,310, Q1 2018: 24,426), 10,766 in Brazil (year-end 2018: 10,307, Q1 2018: 10,027) and 9,902 in Japan (year-end 2018: 9,918; Q1 2018: 9,898). The consolidated subsidiaries in China employed 4,442 people at the end of March (year-end 2018: 4,424, Q1 2018: 4,150).

Details of the divisions

Mercedes-Benz Cars sold 555,300 vehicles in the first quarter, which is 7% less than the high number sold in Q1 2018. Reasons for the decrease in unit sales include the general market development, model changes, constraints on vehicle availability in some international markets and intense competition.

In Europe, unit sales were down by 4% to 235,300 Mercedes-Benz and smart brand vehicles. Of that total, 78,100 units were sold in the German domestic market, representing a decrease of 1%. In China, Mercedes-Benz Cars’ largest market, unit sales decreased by 3% to 173,200 units. Sales in the United States fell by 9% to 64,300 units. On the other hand, sales of compact cars developed very positively due to the model change initiated in the spring of 2018 with the new A-Class: Sales of the A-Class, B-Class, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake rose by 11% to 108,800 units, setting a record for a first quarter. At 178,600 units, sales of SUVs were 16% below the level of the prior-year period. Nonetheless, in the first three months of the year, every third Mercedes-Benz automobile sold was an SUV. The G-Class recorded a 53% increase in unit sales in the first quarter, its highest first quarter sales volume.

Mercedes-Benz Cars’ revenue fell by 8% to €21,200 million (Q1 2018: €22,998 million) and its EBIT amounted to €1,298 million (Q1 2018: €2,060 million). At 6.1%, return on sales was below the figure of 9.0% in the prior-year quarter. Earnings were adversely affected by lower unit sales and changes in the sales structure. In addition, EBIT was reduced by weaker pricing, exchange-rate effects and upfront expenditure for new technologies and vehicles.

Daimler Trucks increased its unit sales by 2% to 115,900 vehicles in the first quarter (Q1 2018: 113,800). In the NAFTA region, sales rose by 17% to 47,800 units (Q1 2018: 40,800). In Brazil, Daimler Trucks achieved growth of 51% with 6,100 vehicles sold. With a market share of 30.5% in the medium- and heavy-duty segment (Q1 2018: 29.4%), the division achieved market leadership there. In the EU30 region (European Union, Switzerland and Norway), sales rose by 10% to 19,000 trucks (Q1 2018: 17,300). In Germany, 6,600 trucks were sold, also significantly more than in the same period of last year (Q1 2018: 6,100). Sales in Turkey continued to be severely affected by the country’s considerable economic uncertainty and fell to 500 vehicles (Q1 2018: 1,800). In Asia, sales declined to 34,300 units (Q1 2018: 37,700). Sales of Auman trucks from the BFDA joint venture in China fell to 22,700 units (Q1 2018: 24,000).

Revenue increased by 11% to €9,546 million (Q1 2018: €8,619 million). EBIT amounted to €582 million (Q1 2018: €647 million) and return on sales was 6.1% (Q1 2018: 7.5%). In addition to the increase in unit sales, especially in the NAFTA region, exchange-rate effects had a positive impact on earnings. Higher expenses for upfront expenditure for new technologies and vehicles as well as additional costs, mainly resulting from higher raw-material prices and supply-chain bottlenecks, had a negative impact on EBIT. Earnings were further reduced by the remeasurement of provisions.

Mercedes-Benz Vans increased its unit sales by 4% in the first quarter to 97,000 vehicles, its strongest first quarter to date. In the EU30 region, sales rose by 10% to the record level of 66,600 units (Q1 2018: 60,400). In the NAFTA region, sales of 11,700 units were slightly higher than in Q1 2018 with 11,300 units. Sales in Latin America rose by 9% to 4,200 units (Q1 2018: 3,800). However, sales in China decreased by 6% to 6,100 units. Sales in Russia, and in a difficult market environment in Turkey, were also significantly lower than in Q1 2018.

Revenue rose by 9% to €3,369 million as a result of higher unit sales (Q1 2018: €3,098 million). EBIT amounted to minus €98 million (Q1 2018: plus €172 million) while return on sales fell to minus 2.9% (Q1 2018: plus 5.6%). EBIT was affected by expenses in connection with the adjustment of production capacities in Russia and Argentina. After reviewing the business case and in alignment with the cooperating partner, it was decided not to produce the Mercedes-Benz X-Class in Argentina. In addition, earnings were impacted by upfront expenditure for new technologies, launch costs for new products, exchange-rate effects and expenses for warranties and customer goodwill. Ongoing governmental proceedings and measures taken for diesel vehicles also had a negative impact on earnings.

Daimler Buses’ sales decreased by 4% to 5,500 units in the first quarter. This was primarily due to delivery delays caused by a changed internal certification process for coaches and intercity buses. In the EU30 region, unit sales fell by 33% to 900 complete buses and bus chassis of the Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands. In Germany, sales fell from 400 to 300 units, which will be catch up in the course of this year. Sales in the Brazilian market developed positively with an increase of 20% to 2,200 units. Due in particular to the ongoing difficult economic situation in Argentina, Daimler Buses’ sales in Latin America (excluding Mexico) increased by only 2% to 3,200 chassis. In Mexico, the division recorded a substantial decline to sales of 400 units in the first quarter of 2019 (Q1 2018: 500).

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