Mercedes-Benz Q2 performance underpinned by strong sales of Top-End cars and premium vans
Mercedes-Benz Group AG’s (ticker symbol: MBG) sharpened focus on sustainable growth through sales of desirable cars and premium vans, combined with tight cost control, lifted second-quarter Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) by 8% to €5.0 billion (Q2 2022: €4.6 billion) and revenue by 5% to €38.2 billion (Q2 2022: €36.4 billion).
At Mercedes-Benz Cars the adjusted Return on Sales (RoS) reached 13.5% in the quarter (Q2 2022: 14.2%) thanks to disciplined pricing and strong sales of Top-End vehicles, as well as Mercedes-Benz SUV models, including electric variants. At Mercedes-Benz Vans the Q2 adjusted RoS rose to 15.5% (Q2 2022: 10.1%) due to favourable pricing and higher sales.
“Our solid financial performance is the result of disciplined strategy execution in a dynamic environment. For this I would like to thank the entire Mercedes team. We expect the pace of sales from the first half of 2023 to continue for the remainder of the year, given the strength of our pipeline of desirable products: Customers will be able to choose from additional models when the new E-Class, the CLE Coupe and GLC Coupe hit showrooms later this year. And at the upcoming IAA we will give a preview of how Mercedes-Benz will elevate and electrify the entry segment based on our MMA architecture.”
Chief Executive Officer of Mercedes-Benz Group AG
In the second quarter, the company continued its transformation with several technological innovations. Mercedes-Benz launched a beta program for the integration of ChatGPT into Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in North America. Users of MBUX¹ can use ChatGPT to enhance the voice assistant to not only accept natural voice commands, but also to conduct conversations with comprehensive answers. The data shows that participants are twice as likely to interact with MBUX when using the ChatGPT functionality.
The new E-Class, which comes equipped with a precursor of the MB.OS operating system, received excellent feedback and will hit showrooms in the second half of the year. Mercedes-Benz will offer “Automatic Lane Change” function in Europe, an intelligent driving assistance systems in the SAE-Level 2 in time for delivery of the first units of the new E-Class.
In September, Mercedes-Benz will showcase its MMA platform (Mercedes Modular Architecture), designed to redefine the entry segment with MB.OS and other features to elevate the product substance.
Investments, free cash flow and liquidity
The free cash flow of the industrial business increased to €3.4 billion (Q2 2022: €1.4 billion). The positive development of working capital was mainly due to lower inventory build-up compared to the previous year. The inventory build-up is a result of the introduction of the direct sales model in additional markets, ramp-ups in production due to new model years and high levels of vehicles in the process of delivery.
The net liquidity of the industrial business rose to €25.8 billion (end of 2022: €26.6 billion). The Group’s investments in property, plant and equipment in the second quarter totaled €0.8 billion (Q2 2022: €0.8 billion). Research and development expenditure amounted to €2.4 billion (Q2 2022: €2.2 billion) due to higher investments for future platforms and technologies, including MB.OS. Mercedes-Benz announced its third Green Bond after two years in Europe.
Compared to the second quarter of the previous year, Mercedes-Benz Mobility tripled its new business volume for battery electric vehicles to €1.8 billion (Q2 2022: €0.6 billion). Overall, with €15.4 billion, the new business of Mercedes-Benz Mobility increased compared to the previous year’s quarter (Q2 2022: €14.1 billion). In a challenging market environment, especially in China, the contract volume of Mercedes-Benz Mobility amounted to €131.4 billion (FY 2022: €132.4 billion). The adjusted EBIT of €448 million (Q2 2022: €624 million) was mainly driven by a declining interest margin, which was partially offset by a normalized cost of credit risk. Profitability was impacted by lower margins due to higher refinancing rates and intensified competition in the financial services sector, as well as from higher investments in charging. As a result, the adjusted Return on Equity (RoE) decreased to 12.8% (Q2 2022: 17.1%).
Demand for battery electric and Top-End segment vehicles lifted sales of Mercedes-Benz Cars by 6%, to 515,700 units in the second quarter, and by 5% to 1,019,200 units in the first half of 2023. Sales were boosted by solid demand in Germany and the United States in particular and growth across all regions and segments. Mercedes-Benz continues to remain disciplined with a focus on sustainable growth, even in a dynamic market environment. BEV sales of Mercedes-Benz Cars almost doubled to 61,200 units (+96%) in Q2. Excluding smart, BEV sales even surged by 123%. Sales in the Top-End segment rose by 12% to 84,800 units in Q2 and 15% to 176,600 vehicles in the first six months of 2023. In the Core segment, sales were up 2% to 276,800 units in the second quarter impacted by a model changeover for the GLC and E-Class. Sales in the Entry segment increased by 11% to 154,100 units in Q2 and even grew 19% in the first half of 2023, reaching 317,500 vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz Vans significantly increased its global sales in the second quarter of 2023 to 119,500 units (+19%) due to the particularly strong contribution from commercial vans. Global sales of all-electric vans increased notably in the second quarter of 2023 to 5,100 units (Q2 2022: 4,300). Thus, the share of all-electric models accounted for 4.2% of total sales. With the recent start of sales of the EQT and eCitan, the product portfolio now offers an electric variant in each segment. Solid net pricing and higher unit sales helped to outweigh cost increases and inflation while the fixed cost base saw a strong improvement. Overall, the adjusted Return on Sales (RoS) for Mercedes-Benz Vans rose to 15.5% (Q2 2022: 10.1%). In May, the division presented its Strategy Update for strengthening its position as a leading manufacturer of light commercial vehicles and received favourable feedback from capital market representatives and media. The midsized Van segment will receive a facelift to give private segment vehicles a more luxurious design and to sharpen the premium appeal in the commercial segment
With regional differences, the overall growth momentum of the world economy is likely to remain rather subdued in the second half of the year. Despite an ongoing monthly decrease in the rate of inflation, inflation is expected to remain above average in many places, which is likely to result in continued restrictive monetary policies by major central banks. These developments are likely to continue to weigh on consumers, companies and weaken economic growth accordingly. In addition, geopolitical imponderables remain another uncertainty factor. By contrast, energy prices are expected to remain at a significantly lower level than in the previous year for the rest of 2023 and also on average for the year as a whole. The noticeably improved supply chain situation should continue to benefit the development of automotive markets in the second half of the year, although market demand is expected to remain subdued in important markets.
Sales Guidance Mercedes-Benz Cars: Order intake is stabilizing with a strong product substance in the market and also considering the product launches to come in 2023 and in 2024. The rate of sales from first-half 2023 is seen remaining at approximately the same level, and full-year sales are thus seen at prior-year level.
At Mercedes-Benz Mobility the adjusted RoE remains unchanged at 12%–14%.
Unit sales and revenue at Mercedes-Benz Cars are seen at the prior-year level. The adjusted RoS is seen at 12%–14% and the adjusted Cash Conversion Rate at 0.8–1.0. Investments in property, plant and equipment and into research and development are seen significantly above the prior-year level.
At Mercedes-Benz Vans, unit sales are now seen at “significantly above” the prior-year's level, up from the previous expectation of a slight rise in sales. The adjusted RoS is now expected in the range of 13%–15% up from 11%–13% previously. The adjusted Cash Conversion Rate is now expected at 0.7–0.9, up from 0.6–0.8 previously. Investments in property, plant and equipment and into research and development are still seen significantly above the prior-year level.
The Mercedes-Benz Group expects revenue at the prior-year level. Group EBIT is now seen “at prior-year level,” up from “slightly below” resulting from the adjusted Van guidance. Free cash flow of the industrial business is now expected “slightly above” the prior-year level.
 All vehicles with MBUX of model series A 238, C 118, C 167, C 238, C 253, C 254, C 257, H 247, N 293, R 232, S 213, V 167, V 177, V 295, V 297, W 206, W 213, WV 223, X 167, X 243, X 247, X 253, X 254, X 294, X 296, Z 223 and Z 296.