China to be No. 3 market of Mercedes-Benz in ’10 image

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz expects China to surpass the UK as its third-biggest market next year with its sales growth in China outpacing the overall auto market, Bloomberg reported today.

China’s auto sales will likely rise by as much as 15% next year, Mercedes-Benz China head Klaus Maier said today at the opening Guangzhou auto show. The automaker’s China sales this year will probably rise 65% to 65,000 cars, he said.

Mercedes expects its sales in China to only lag behind those Germany and the U.S. next year, surpassing the UK sales. China is the world’s biggest market for Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class model.

Sales of Mercedes cars rose 55% in China in the first 10 months to 50,700 units, with October sales up 83% to 6,400 units, making it the fastest-growing luxury-car brand in the Chinese market. Mercedes may overtake BMW in China “soon.”

Mercedes-Benz expects its cars sold in China to be evenly split between imports and locally made models by the end of next year. Currently, 70% are imported. Daimler has a Chinese venture with Beijing Auto for making Mercedes cars.

“We are always confident that this market will continue to grow, especially in the luxury-car segment, as we believe the Chinese economy will continue to grow,” said a sales and marketing executive at Mercedes-Benz China.

By George Gao