Daimler CEO vows to make Mercedes-Benz No. 1 premium carmaker by 2020 image

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche aims to put bring the Mercedes-Benz luxury brand back to No. 1 ahead of Audi and BMW by 2020.

In an interview with German newspaper Boersen-Zeitung, Zetsche vowed to surpass the two premium carmakers. “I am confident that we will be ahead of our rivals by 2020 at the latest,” Zetsche told Boersen-Zeitung in an interview published on Saturday. The executive added he hoped to reach that target during his time in office.

Dieter Zetsche’s contract with Daimler expires in December 2013 but is expected to be extended in February by three more years. Daimler has announced 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in cost cuts at the Mercedes-Benz division by the end of 2014 following a warning in October that it would miss its operating profit target this year by 1 billion euros.

Zetsche told the newspaper Mercedes-Benz had failed to keep up with its rivals in the compact car market and in China. Germany’s luxury-car makers have managed to maintain growth by increasing sales in the United States and China, offsetting slumping European sales.

BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are all targeting record sales this year, while mass-market automakers in Europe are preparing for the lowest sales in the region in nearly 20 years.