Mercedes-Benz ready to test online sales image

The German luxury carmaker will start selling cars online for the first time through its dealership in Hamburg, Germany, following BMW in experimenting with web sales.

Starting today, customers can choose from more than 70 pre-configured vehicles in a pilot test of direct sales via the Internet. The models, including the A-class hatchback, CLA four-door coupe and CLS Shooting Brake wagon, are offered in a package that includes lease, insurance and maintenance.

“This is a new field,” Andrea Finkbeiner-Mueller, head of dealer development and customer satisfaction for Mercedes, said at a press briefing on Monday in Stuttgart, Germany. “We’re following our vision.”

Mercedes is targeting customers who haven’t bought a Mercedes before, Finkbeiner-Mueller said. While prices of the cars are equivalent to those at German dealerships, online buyers are rewarded with incentives such as a visit to a motor-racing event or free rentals of roof racks for vacation trips.

Dealers will be involved in the online transactions, and a salesman that can visit customers will support the service. Daimler plans to start a second pilot web store in Warsaw in the first quarter of 2014.

Carmakers are increasingly looking to sell directly via the Internet. BMW is using the Internet to sell the i3 electric car. The push comes as traditional dealerships face increasing competition from auto Web sites such as

Via Automotive News Europe