(Adds detail on premium EV sales, background)

BERLIN, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Daimler’s China sales will stay strong next year, the carmaker’s China chief said on Thursday, adding he was confident that Mercedes-Benz could grow its share of the country’s electric vehicle market given little competition in the premium car segment.

Its car sales in China jumped 12% last year to a record 774,000 despite the pandemic, and over 8% growth has been registered this year so far, Hubertus Troska told journalists.

“Everything speaks for the fact that China will be a super market next year as well,” Troska said.

Daimler’s market share of electric vehicle sales is still small in China, Troska said, where it competes with numerous Chinese electric vehicle makers from Xpeng to Li Auto and Nio as well as U.S. EV giant Tesla.

However, most Chinese companies sell in the price range of 35,000 euros ($39,270) or less, Troska said, below Daimler’s range.

With the number of Daimler EV models for sale in the country set to grow from one to five next year, Daimler will be able to better establish itself in the higher-priced premium car segment, he said.

Still, demand for fossil-fuel burning cars is likely to last for some time in China, Troska said, pointing to the large swathes of the country outside urban centres where charging infrastructure could be harder to come by.

“It’s a huge country, so in my view there will still be internal combustion engine cars in China for some time,” Troska said.

Daimler has said that all new vehicle platforms from 2025 will be electric, with a view to producing all-electric only by 2030 where market conditions allow.

China, which is the world’s largest car market and is responsible for a third of Daimler’s revenues, has so far refrained from following Europe in setting dates for bans on production of fossil-fuel emitting cars. (Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Paul Carrel and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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