Sometimes the view of the world changes drastically in just a year. In July 2020, auto and truck maker Daimler appeared to be in serious trouble with a quarterly multibillion loss and skyrocketing costs. Barely twelve months later, the situation is completely different: for the second quarter alone, the group recorded a surprisingly high profit before interest and taxes of 5.2 billion euros. Once again, Daimler has exceeded market expectations. And this despite the fact that the continued bottlenecks in the delivery of important electronic components have been causing problems for the entire auto industry for months.
In the same period of the previous year, the Stuttgart-based company recorded an operating loss of 1.7 million euros due to the collapse of the auto markets during the pandemic, and the bottom line was even minus 1.9 billion euros. Sometimes there was a climate of alarm and the austerity measures that had already been initiated were reinforced again. In retrospect, the nervousness was overdone, as high-end manufacturers like Daimler once again benefited from rising demand after the crown crisis. The group sold around 1.16 million Mercedes cars in the first half of the year, narrowly missing its sales record of 2018. In its largest market, China, the Stuttgart-based company was even able to record a record sales: Here the number of Mercedes cars sold rose to more than 440,000. Given the scarcity of resources, many car manufacturers are also content with the fact that their most profitable models are preferably equipped with rare pieces. Daimler is also taking advantage of the fact that customers are increasingly choosing larger cars.
In addition to this, the effects of a number of austerity programs that Daimler had imposed on itself in previous years are now particularly noticeable in operating income. Senior management had initiated the shedding of tens of thousands of jobs, the reasons they cited at the time were the conversion of combustion engines to electric motors and the consequences of the crown. Unions and works councils had accepted cuts, also because the group displayed dark red figures in mid-2020 and had to send a number of employees on short-time work. This is still a problem at Daimler in 2021, although to an entirely different extent and for a different reason: Due to the lack of chips, the company stopped production at individual factories for months and sent thousands. employees on leave.
By the way, Daimler still earns most of its money by far from conventional combustion vehicles. The number of fully electric cars sold in the first half of the year accounted for just over three percent of all cars delivered. The end of the competition for supremacy in the electronic age is on. So far, Daimler has expected the entire fleet of new Mercedes vehicles to be CO₂ neutral by 2039 at the latest. Other competitors have already formulated bolder goals.