* Daimler Trucks expects higher sales, profit
* To invest 2.4 bln euros in R&D by 2016
* To focus on expanding modular platform (Adds quotes, details on R&D, component platform)
STUTTGART, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Daimler expects truck sales to rise at least 5 percent to more than 500,000 this year and to 700,000 by 2020 due to rising demand in the United States, helping to offset a slump in markets like Brazil, trucks chief Wolfgang Bernhard said on Monday.
This year, it is also aiming to significantly increase earnings before interest and tax from the 2.07 billion euros ($2.34 billion) it reported last year, due to its sales network expansion and sharing components between truck brands.
“We want to sell significantly more than 500,000,” Bernhard said, adding that this amounts to 5 percent growth or more, compared with last year, thanks to increased demand in Indonesia, India and the United States.
Daimler said the fourth quarter had started well, with sales jumping 45 percent.
Daimler Trucks will invest 2.4 billion euros ($2.72 billion) in research and development and another 2.2 billion euros in plants and properties by 2016 to expand its dealership network in Asia and in developing a product range for emerging markets.
“Truck makers are in the infancy of developing a platform strategy,” Bernhard said, explaining that engines, cabins, electronics, and chassis components including brakes could be shared more effectively between the Mercedes, Freightliner, Western Star, FUSO and Auman brands.
Sharing components will help Daimler save money at a time when sales in certain markets like Russia were down 30 percent last year.
By taking components which have already been fully developed, and using them in new products for new markets, Daimler will invest mainly in development and fine tuning, rather than having to design products from the ground up, Bernhard said.
$1 = 0.8845 euros $1 = 0.8838 euros Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Susan thomas