Luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz on Tuesday reported lower first-quarter profits and sales that were in line with expectations, adding it would hold and defend high pricing levels seen in the first quarter.

The group's first-quarter earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) fell 29.8% to 3.86 billion euros ($4.13 billion), compared with the 3.87 billion LSEG estimate.

Thanks to a strong conversion rate, the group's free cash flow from its industrial business actually grew 3.2% to 2.23 billion euros, it said, adding it kept its outlook, which forecasts stable sales and slightly lower EBIT in 2024.

"Mercedes-Benz wants to hold and defend pricing at current levels," the company said, adding sales volume were expected to rise over the coming quarters.

($1 = 0.9342 euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz Editing by Miranda Murray)