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Form left: Henry Li, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Beijing Benz Automotive Co Ltd, Bjrn Hauber, executive vice president, Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd and Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador Mika Hakkinen.
Mercedes-Benz F 125! Research Vehicle - the redefinition of automotive luxury.
At the Guangzhou Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz wrapped up another successful year with a star-studded lineup of 36 models from its Mercedes-Benz, smart and AMG brands.
"This year we have brought more than 30 new and upgraded models to China," said Bjrn Hauber, executive vice-president of Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd.
"And I can promise you this is a long term trend. We will continue to bring very new and upgraded models to China every year," he said, adding that the company is preparing to vow customers again next April at the Shanghai Auto Show.
According to Hauber, new products strongly stimulate growth, and it is an integral part of the company's aggressive product strategy in China, which is its third-largest market worldwide.
The Chinese market has already grown to be very fragmented in terms of individual requirements, "therefore, we believe there are still lots of opportunities for us," he said.
During Guangzhou Auto Show the famous marque has introduced five new cars in total, including the all new SL, the limited edition smart iceshine, two G-Class AMGs and the SLS AMG 45 Year Limited China Edition.
Another eye-catching model on the Mercedes-Benz' stand is its China debut of the F 125! Research Vehicle, which is a thrilling onlooker with its sleek rendering of future luxury automotive transportation. By looking ahead more than two generations to the year of 2025 and beyond, the F 125! offers a glimpse of the three-pointed star's bright future.
"You can see how important China is to Mercedes-Benz here at the Guangzhou Auto Show. Every year we come back with our latest products," Hauber said.
"Our relentless efforts to make Mercedes-Benz' exceptional product portfolio even stronger will further consolidate our core competitiveness in China," he added.
Mercedes-Benz' commitment to bringing Chinese customers the best products in the shortest time is also reflected in its family of locally-produced vehicles, according to Henry Li, executive vice-president of sales and marketing at the joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co Ltd.
At the Guangzhou Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz presented comprehensive upgrades that enhance the performance, luxury, and appearance of its locally produced family.
"These upgrades are a result of Beijing Benz' close monitoring of market demands and rapid response to changes in these demands," Li noted.
"Our growing locally produced family has become an important pillar for Mercedes-Benz' sustainable development and we believe they will be even more successful," Li added.
The automaker continued to achieve stable sales growth in the first 10 months of 2012, with 169,070 new cars delivered to Chinese customers.
Hauber noted that several pillar products contributed to this growth.
Its flagship S-Class, maintained its leadership role in the luxury car segment with more than 28,000 units sold since the start of the year, an increase of 13 percent compared to the same period in 2011.
He also lauded the success of Mercedes-Benz' "Year of the SUV" strategy, which led to upgrades for almost all of the automaker's SUV products. With a strengthened product portfolio, Mercedes-Benz has delivered over 45,400 cars from its SUV family in the first 10 months of this year.
Chinese consumers continue to welcome the lifestyle icon urban smart cars as well.
Over 13,000 smart vehicles were sold in the first 10 months of the year, representing a year-on-year growth rate of 44 percent, and with the release of the cheeky new smart iceshine special edition at the Guangzhou Auto Show, the brand is sure to attract even more fans.
"It won't be long before China is the most important market for Mercedes-Benz volume-wise," Hauder said, "Actually there's no board meeting where we don't talk about China."
"We firmly believe that China's economy will continue to grow and with it the automobile market. I am convinced that the premium market will continue to grow and at a pace that is faster than the overall growth of the automobile market. I am confident we are on a long-term, sustainable growth path in China," he said.
As a reflection of its confidence in the China market, Mercedes-Benz is pursuing an active network expansion plan.
There are currently 224 authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer outlets in China, and the automaker plans to expand this number to more than 250 outlets covering over 100 cities by the end of the year.
By 2015, its network will expand even further to cover 170 cities.
To ensure that all its new dealerships provide the same high standard of service for which the brand is synonymous, Mercedes-Benz plans to invest 150 million yuan ($24 million) in training its dealership staff.
Mercedes-Benz' new technical examination center in Beijing, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and 50 highly experienced technical engineers, will further enhance the quality of its after-sales services.
"Mercedes-Benz is the first automaker here in China to have established such a groundbreaking technical facility specifically focused on after-sales service, providing further proof of our lasting commitment to China," said Hauber.
To top it off, in an exciting development for consumers, Mercedes-Benz also announced at the Guangzhou Auto Show that its three-year warranty program will now be extended indefinitely across its entire product line in China due to overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers. Originally, the program was planned to be available for one year only to celebrate Mercedes-Benz' landmark 125-year anniversary.
With this demonstration of its commitment to the China market, Mercedes-Benz continues to stand at the forefront of the auto industry as the only German automaker to offer a three-year warranty for its entire product portfolio.
"The rich product portfolio, expanding dealer network and distinguished services together have given us full confidence in achieving long-term success and sustainable development in the world's most important market," Hauber emphasized.
(China Daily 11/23/2012 page15)