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Daimler CEO: 'Diesel is worth fighting for'

Dieter Zetsche, CEO of German luxury carmaker Daimler vows to fight for diesel-powered vehicles, but declines to comment on the latest scandal rocking the nation's auto industry.

Stuttgart-based Daimler posted a solid gain in second-quarter profit on Wednesday thanks in part to a surge in earnings at its flagship Mercedes-Benz brand group, despite the emissions-testing scandal that has engulfed the German car industry. 

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told reporters that the company's new generation of diesel engines offered lower emissions and that diesel can make an important contribution to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, adding that he saw "no reason to forego the advantages" of diesel in reaching goals for lowering carbon dioxide emissions.

But disregarding demands from industry, union and political leaders for the carmaker to shed light on the cartel allegations, Zetsche added: "We are well-advised not to join speculation."

Turning a profit

The company said its second-quarter net profit was up 2 percent compared with a year ago, to 2.51 billion euros ($2.9 billion). Revenue increased 7 percent to 41.16 billion euros.

Across the whole first six months, revenues increased 9 percent compared with last year, to almost 80 billion euros.

Watch video 01:21

Collusion cloud follows German carmakers

Looking at the group's different divisions, Daimler's flagship Mercedes-Benz cars increased unit sales by 9 percent in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2016, to almost 600,000 vehicles.

Overall the company sold 822,500 vehicles when trucks, vans and busses are added in. But these units all reported double-digit falls in operating profit year on year.

Nevertheless, Daimler remained confident of meeting its full-year forecasts of "significant" increases in both revenue and operating profits.

The bad news continues

The latest earnings report was overshadowed by the threat of diesel-car bans and the newest reports of massive collusion among German automakers. As a result, the government has summoned car manufacturers to a diesel summit in Berlin at the beginning of August in order to try to lower pollution levels and ensure the technology has a future.

German weekly Der Spiegel reported Friday that a group of automakers including Daimler had colluded for years on diesel technology and other issues and had agreed to limit the size of the tanks for AdBlue, a urea-based liquid needed to help filter harmful nitrogen oxides from diesel exhaust emissions.

The company has announced it will update engine software in 3 million cars to improve their emissions performance and reduce uncertainty about diesel technology. Zetsche said customers were responding positively to the service action.

Watch video 01:55

Daimler investigated for emissions cheating

tr/hg (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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