Mercedes-Benz bets big on China auto market image

Riding on the back of brisk sales in the first seven months, German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz looks poised to make further inroads in the Chinese automobile market as it gears up to launch more models targeting domestic consumers.

The premium sedan maker said car sales in the first seven months of the year grew 49 percent over same period last year. The company sold 31,711 cars during the period and had the highest growth rate in China’s luxury car segment, said Klaus Maier, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd.

Maier exuded confidence when said the company remains confident of maintaining the scorching pace of growth for the rest of the year too.

“Though most of the major markets have been severely impacted by the economic downturn, China continues to maintain positive growth. The rapid growth of the economy and the automobile industry has spawned more wealthy people and also broadened their vision and understanding of international luxury brands,” said Maier.

“As this affluent class continues to gain prominence, they have more purchasing power for luxury products, something that bodes well for the luxury car segment,” he told China Daily.

“We are also diversifying our product strategy and plan to introduce more models in the Chinese market,” he said.

After introducing its minicar brand ‘Smart’, as well ‘B-Class’ and new ‘E-Class’ sedans in the country during the first half, the company launched the ninth generation of its flagship ‘S-Class’ lineup with nine models in Beijing on Friday, priced between 930,000 yuan ($136,146) and 2,598,000 yuan.

The flagship S-Class sedans command a 41 percent market share in China’s top luxury segment.

“China has become the largest S-Class market in the world since the first quarter, and the flagship model continued to dominate the top luxury segment with 7,300 units delivered to Chinese customers in the past seven months. With such success, we are confident that the new generation models will extend the S-Class leadership position, and attract even more of China’s top echelon customers, who appreciate true luxury at its finest,” said Maier.

He said the company still believes there is still vast untapped potential in the premium car segment.

“This is because in China, the ratio between selling luxury cars and passenger cars is 1:10, which means there is only one luxury car for every 10 passenger cars. But in the other markets, such as North America and Western Europe, the ratio is 1:5. Therefore, China still has a lot of room for growth in the luxury segment,” said Maier.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, in the first seven months, China’s total passenger car sales jumped 31 percent to 5.37 million units from a year earlier as the government stimulus measures started yielding results.

Source: Gasgoo