Daimler takes on Porsche with launch of AMG-GT sportscar

Tue Sep 9, 2014 2:53pm EDT
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By Edward Taylor

AFFALTERBACH Germany (Reuters) - Daimler (DAIGn.DE: Quote) on Tuesday launched the Mercedes-AMG GT, a sleek two-door coupe with more than 500 horsepower designed to poach Porsche customers as part of an effort to expand its offering of upmarket sportscars.

The new GT, which is set to hit showrooms in Germany in March 2015, will give sales of the Mercedes sub-brand a new boost and position AMG as a standalone manufacturer in its own right, Tobias Moers, the unit's chief executive said at an event to launch the car.

"This car represents a milestone for our brand. There are already icons in this segment, and we are happy to take them on," Moers said.

AMG is a sub-brand of Mercedes-Benz which already makes tuned-up versions of the S-Class limousine, G-class offroader and even the A-and B-Class compact cars. It expects to sell more than 40,000 cars this year, Moers said.

Moers declined to give a figure for potential sales of the GT, adding that it will make up less than 20 percent of overall AMG sales, which totaled 32,200 in 2013, and 23,000 in the first half of 2014.

"We can do a four digit figure in annual sales," Moers said about the AMG-GT, declining to be more specific.

With the 510 horsepower coupe, Mercedes is entering a lucrative segment of the market dominated by Volkswagen-owned (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) Porsche, the most profitable manufacturer among the German luxury car makers.

Porsche earned a return on sales of around 18 percent last year. By comparison, Mercedes-Benz Cars, a division which includes AMG, had a return on sales of 6.2 percent in 2013, lagging Audi's 10.1 percent and BMW's automotive earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margin of 9.4 percent.   Continued...

Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg and Mercedes sales head Ola Kaellenius (L-R) pose at the world premiere of the new Mercedes AMG GT super sports car at the Mercedes AMG headquarters in Affalterbach near Stuttgart, September 9, 2014.           REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY  - Tags: TRANSPORT SPORT MOTORSPORT BUSINESS)