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Mercedes Car Group nearly doubles earnings

DaimlerChrysler's German-based car business nearly doubled earnings in the Q2 as Mercedes Car Group put its troubles behind it.

The group on Wednesday posted earnings before interest and tax of €1.20 billion ($1.66 billion), up from €690 million in the matching quarter a year ago. The figure does not include Chrysler, the US unit recently spun off by the German-based company. DaimlerChrysler's Truck Group, which had been more steadily profitable but has been hit this year by plunging US sales, scored earnings of €601 million, ($825 million) up from €585 million one year ago. The company said the figures were provisional and all divisions would not issue final figures till August 29. The increase at the Car Group was a result of 'positive development of the sales mix' and quality and efficiency improvements. But earnings in euro terms were depleted at the same time by the weakness of the dollar in the Q2 of 2007.

The Mercedes Car Group sold 320,200 vehicles in the Q2, somewhat fewer than the 325,500 of a year earlier. Revenues of €12.6 billion ($17.3 billion) largely matched the prior-year level. The van and bus division reported earnings in the same period of €257 million ($353 million), sharply down from €1.12 billion ($1.54 billion) because of extraordinary items. In the H2 of this year, DaimlerChrysler expected the expansion of global automotive markets - both for passenger cars and for commercial vehicles - to slow down compared to the same period of 2006. (