Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz sees up to 15% growth in the premium segment in China this year and, according to a senior executive, wants to capitalize and grab a bigger share of that market by expanding into the inland-west and smaller cities.
China sales head Nicholas Speeks said the company plans to open 75 new dealer outlets this year, nearly half in third- and fourth-tier cities, all part of the bigger plan to to reverse its recent struggles in the world’s biggest auto market.
“We are a little bit lagging behind our principal competitors in terms of outlets opening,” Speeks told reporters on Friday. “In the past we have been concentrating on Beijing, Shanghai (and other major markets along China’s coast). We recognize one of our shortcomings is the fact that we need to expand our dealer network.”
China’s overall car market was expected to grow about 10 percent, year-on-year, this year, he said. “I think the premium car market will exceed that. It will be solid double-digit growth this year.”
The network expansion is a key component of Daimler’s strategic plan to invest 2 billion euros ($2.67 billion) in China over the next two years. It aims to boost sales of Mercedes-Benz cars by a third to more than 300,000 cars a year by 2015, from this year’s forecast sales of 230,000 cars. If achieved, the target would make China Mercedes-Benz’s biggest market globally. Currently, China is the brand’s No. 3 market behind Germany and the United States.