FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Sales of Daimler's (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz brand fell 5.8 pct to 90,083 vehicles in February, with sales in China dropping by half due to last month's celebration of the Chinese New Year.
During the Geneva auto show on Tuesday, Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche told Reuters Insider TV that the effect from Chinese New Year, which was in January last year, ensured that February would be a very tough month.
But Mercedes continued to suffer relative to its peers in the fast growing Chinese luxury car market, causing the gap with its larger peers to widen.
Volkswagen's Audi (VOWG_p.DE) earlier reported that its sales in China, its single largest market, eased by only 3.5 percent in February to around 30,000 vehicles - three times the number of cars Mercedes sold there that month.
Mercedes sales chief Joachim Schmidt on Thursday still stuck to an outlook for record car sales in 2013, citing the upcoming launch next month of the new CLA compact four door coupe along with this summer's roll-out of the flagship S-Class sedan.
In the first two months of the year, Mercedes eked out a 1.3 percent gain in volumes to nearly 185,000 vehicles. Audi, by comparison, sold almost 222,000 vehicles for a gain of 9.4 percent.
Reporting By Christiaan Hetzner