UPDATE 1-Daimler starting year with optimism after strong finish to 2020 - CEO

(Adds detail on Q4)

FRANKFURT, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Daimler is starting the year with optimism after a strong finish to 2020, Chief Executive Ola Kaellenius said on Thursday, adding that sales in the fourth quarter had continued the strong trend seen in the preceding three months.

Sales growth in the fourth quarter was “driven by China - but not China alone”, Kaellenius told reporters, after reaching 4% year-on-year in the prior quarter. Daimler will publish its fourth-quarter sales on Friday.

Kaellenius also said Daimler had achieved its CO2 reduction goal last year, when it sold nearly 160,000 electric vehicles under the Mercedes brand as well as 30,000 of its electric Smart microcars. (Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Jan Harvey)