Daimler’s financial services division reported a 5% year-on-year increase for Q1 earnings, to €548m (£480), running counter to a significant profit fall in its parent group.

The increase in earnings before tax and interest was driven by higher revenues, rising 2% to €6bn. New business for the period was up 6% to €17bn.

The strong results for the division ran in contrast to a 11% profit drop for the wider group, to €3.33bn. Daimler cited an hostile environment for diesel, base rate rises and higher cost of raw materials.

Europe remained the biggest market for leasing and financing, with 233,000 new contracts, up 7%. This translated to an 11% increase in new business, to €7.5bn.

While operations in Africa and the Asia-Pacific saw growth in line with the wider business, negative exchange rates affected contract values in the Americas.

China saw strong business growth, up 15% to €2.9bn. The market was singled out by Daimler as a driver of financial services growth in coming months.

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Li Shufu, chairman of Volvo Cars parent Geely, was recently appointed to Daimler’s board after acquiring a 9.69% equity stake in the company. The German carmaker intends to use the connection to Shufu to further business in the Chinese market.

The company added it would expand online sales for financial services worldwide.

On the mobility side, the financial services division reported explosive growth, with 37.5m trips made using its car2go, Moovel and MyTaxi services, up 76% year-on-year. Mobility customers grew 86% to 21.4m, off the back of geographical expansion.

In March, Daimler and BMW revealed plans to combine their mobility services. The merger is currently awaiting competition authorities’ approval.