Daimler's trucks unit has had a weak start to the year due to reduced orders in Europe and the United States, it said on Wednesday, adding that it only expects to get a boost from the launch of new models in the second half of the year.
The company is the largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in the world, selling 462,000 trucks last year including popular models like the heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz Actros and Freightliner Cascadia as well as the smaller Fuso Canter, which is used mainly in Asia.
Divisional chief Andreas Renschler also said that his aim to get the operating profit margin up to 8% in 2013 from 5.5% last year, and 6.5% in 2011, has been delayed slightly.
"It should be achievable in 2014 at the latest,'' he told reporters at Daimler Truck's annual press conference held in its main manufacturing plant in Woerth, Germany, near the French border.
European truckmakers are suffering heavily from the economic malaise in the euro zone, since demand closely tracks the cross-border trade of goods, with registrations of new heavy-duty commercial trucks down 9.4 percent in the European Union last year including bigger drops in Italy and Spain.
Swedish rival Volvo AB recently warned of a rough start to this year as factories ran at half speed, while Volkswagen's premium truck brand Scania said it would reduce production by 15% in the first quarter and cut around 700 jobs.
Despite an overall difficult environment, Daimler Trucks expects new vehicles like the Antos distribution and Arocs construction trucks will help it increase overall sales this year, raising earnings and boosting its share of the market in all major regions.
Daimler has forecast the truck market will contract by 5-10% in the NAFTA region as customers wait for clearer policy signals out of Washington before investing. In Europe, volumes overall should stagnate or fall by up to 5%, while Brazil should experience a rebound.