DaimlerChrysler AG has said it expects to sell some 255,000 Mercedes-Benz commercial vans in the second half of 2001, which is about 5% more than last year.

"There will be a slight downturn in Western Europe, but that will be offset by growth elsewhere," said Rolf Bartke, head of vans operations for Mercedes Benz. "A plunge in demand like that of passenger cars in the U.S. can't be expected for commercial vans."

Bartke said the company is in talks with potential partners in Korea and China to sell commercial vans there, adding that China is a promising growth market.

For the European commercial van market, he said he expects growth of about 2% a year over the next 10 years. Bartke said there is a large demand for small package transportation fueling the rise, which could boost demand growth to around 3% to 4% if e-commerce were to strengthen.