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FRANKFURT—Daimler AG's DAI.

XE +2.34% push to regain its position as the world's leading premium auto maker will take its toll on profitability this year, as it plows money into new factories and products while demand remains weak.

The German company gave more detail Thursday on its ambitious plans to overhaul its Mercedes-Benz unit by 2020, including the launch of 13 brand new models, but said it expects demand for its cars and trucks to remain sluggish at least until the second half of 2013.

Daimler's commitment to recoup lost ground to BMW AG BMW.XE +0.18% and Volkswagen AG's VOW3.XE 0.00% Audi and Porsche units came as net profit rose in the fourth quarter, largely due to a one-off gain and strong sales of its Mercedes cars in parts of Asia and North America.

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