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Daimler AG to invest in Chinese partner BAIC Motor for a 12 percent stake. Both parties formally signed the relevant contract in Stuttgart's Mercedes-Benz Museum on Feb 1, 2013.
Editor's note: China is the seventh country Hubertus Troska has served in for his career with Daimer AG, however, it's also the first one outside of Germany, for which he takes charge of all of the company's business operations.
The executive is fully aware that China is the key if his company wants become number one in the world.
The chairman and CEO of Daimler Greater China feels more positive, excited and inspired than challenged in the world's largest and fastest growing vehicle market.
He told China Daily reporter Li Fangfang that he is ready to help bring the company to the next level in China.
Q: After taking this position for 100 days, what's your impression and view on China's automotive market as well as the local business environment?
A: My general perspective on China is very positive and inspiring. Here is where you have to be! The local economy grows steadily, and the vehicle market increases tremendously.
It's clear that China is not just the world's biggest car market since 2009, but will also be the most important premium car market very soon.
Though the government is taking measures to limit vehicle registrations and raise emissions standards to ease environmental and traffic problems, people are still talking about double-digit increases in China. Whereas some markets in Europe present negative growth. Compared to other markets, China is and will be the key engine to drive the automotive industry to further growth in the future.
Q: What have you learned so far from your Chinese colleagues, what inspires you?
A: I just came here around 100 days ago, and so far the biggest challenge for me is learning the Chinese language, which I believe is the first step to understanding the culture and people.
For our future success it is essential to understand the Chinese culture and Chinese automotive market, but just as importantly we also need to understand the government's direction as well as our joint venture partners.
I have more than 25 years of experience with Daimler. And I have seen a motivated, diverse and well experienced team here. I am confident that we can benefit from this diversity in culture and experience.
Q: Do you feel any challenges or difficulties from operating such a huge and complicated company, as your predecessor brought Daimler into a new stage in China during his term, by having the full product line-up and completing all operations?
A: Today Daimler is the only global car company that covers all auto segments in China. For me this is an excellent point to start working for the future. And I am certain I can help bring the company to the next level.
Q: Daimler has several JVs all over China. What do you think about the partnerships?
A: The Chinese market requires you to go with partners and we are used to going to new markets with new, strong partners by our side.
For me a partnership should be based on trust and long-term commitment, with the shareholders perfectly complementing each other: at Daimler we bring in more than 125 years of experience, innovative technology, quality and pioneering safety. From our partners we can expect market understanding, in both the customers and government, as well as cost consciousness.
With BAIC we are invested in a long lasting, deep relationship, that will be even more strengthened in the future. BDNT is a fascinating project, and there is no better market for electric vehicles than China.
The alignment with BFDA opens for us the doors to the huge Medium and Heavy Duty Truck market in China. And lastly FBAC, our solidarity for our Mercedes-Benz Vans business, just had the best Q1 ever.
Q: Daimler has been a pioneer: as the first and only foreign luxury carmaker to form a joint venture with BYD Co Ltd specifically to develop a brand new electric vehicle for Chinese market. And now, your rival BMW is catching up in the sector. What's your expectation for the electric vehicle sector in China market?
A: I have been to Shenzhen to visit our Daimler-BYD joint venture.
I was impressed by the progress they made there, we are on the right track. Back in 2010 Daimler's partnership with BYD was the first electric vehicle joint venture to be created in China. And since then both partners put in their joint efforts and experiences to develop the safest and most reliable Electric Vehicle from China, for China.
Obviously, China is also one of the most important markets for electric vehicles, due to the government's heavy efforts in sustainable mobility as well as the public getting more and more receptive to this technology.
Yet - like in all other markets - there are still challenges for electric vehicles to rapidly develop in China. The customer's willingness to pay for the still expensive technology as well as the infrastructure for charging is an issue. It has to be convenient for customers to recharge vehicles every day for daily use. In order to boost this business segment, further subsidies and incentives will be necessary.
Q: Other than electric vehicles, does Daimler also provide other new technologies to lower emission and fuel consumption?
A: Electric vehicles are the upper end, the more sophisticated offering. For me there are also big opportunities in combustion engines and in the development and manufacturing of modern, high performance low consumption engines.
We are investing heavily into the localization of our engines. In March this year our four and six cylinder engine plant will start its operations in Beijing - being the first one outside of Germany, and supporting both Mercedes-Benz cars and vans.
Additionally our new generation of compact cars, starting with the A-Class this year, as well as hybrid technologies like our E-Class will contribute to sustainable mobility in China.
Q: As you are optimistic about the China market, do you have any plans to expand Daimler's investment here?
A: Investments are certainly vital to Daimler's long-term strategy and goals in China. And we are ready to invest here if there is a good opportunity.
To give you one example: the core of Mercedes-Benz is engineering and production, with currently the biggest plant in Sindelfingen, Germany. But in a very few years, the biggest car plant for Mercedes-Benz will be here, in China.
For this we are investing more than 3 billion euro ($3.9 billion) together with our partner.
This is also one major intention of my assignment as a Board of Management Member for Daimler AG for our "Greater China" business.
I am responsible for strategic decisions and investments as well as the overseeing of the running of all relevant business units.
China is the only market in the world with a seat at the table where all major decisions in our company are made. And my job is to make our Chinese voice heard in Stuttgart!
(China Daily 04/19/2013 page15)