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Auto special: Mercedes-Benz confident of sustaining momentum

By Zhuan Ti | China Daily | Updated: 2015-02-04 07:52

Mercedes-Benz has pledged to lift customer experience in the China market by laying a trustworthy foundation with its dealer partners and unveiling more models to sustain its already strong momentum in 2015.

Nicholas Speeks, president and CEO of Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service, said at a year-end roundtable over the weekend that the German automaker has established a sales target for this year of more than 300,000 units.

"Our sales target in 2015 is ambitious... and next year we want to be well above 300,000 units," he said.

The year 2014 was one of strong growth for Mercedes-Benz.

The Stuttgart-based company delivered an outstanding sales achievement in the Chinese market with an increase of 28 percent year-on-year, overtaking Audi's 17.7 percent and BMW's 16 percent.

With such rapid growth, December also marked the 22nd month of consecutive sales growth since BMBS was established in March 2013.

Despite that growth, the automaker still lags behind its competition in total sales, an issue it plans to address in 2015.

To realize this target, Speeks identified three main pillars for growth, with customer experience the company's first priority.

"The customer experience, and improving customer satisfaction, remains our number one strategic priority," he said.

"We have worked hard across a range of areas, especially after-sales, taking two significant steps to bring our customers more value, and help them better save the money they've worked so very hard to earn."

The brand's focus is always customer, customer, and customer, he said.

"If you want happy customers, you had better make sure your dealers are happy, too," Speeks said. "We made great strides in this regard, and this remains our biggest achievement in 2014."

In a bid to bring the best experience to Chinese customers, Mercedes-Benz initiated the largest network expansion program in its global brand history, opening 106 dealers in 2014, to bring its total number of dealers to 447 in 214 cities across the country at year-end.

Li Hongpeng, senior executive vice-president of BMBS, attributed the successful expansion in 2014 to several effective moves, such as tireless efforts to improve dealer relations.

"We continue to communicate well with our strategic partners under high efficiency and to ensure long-term steady cooperation with all our dealer partners," Li said.

He also expressed the company's strong willingness to build a more comprehensive and diversified dealership network instead of simply storing outlet numbers.

For instance, relying on its current 4S dealer outlets, the idea is to generate more service workshops as subsidiaries, both to reinforce after-sales service, and also to expand the high-quality service to a broader cover and benefit customers with unprecedented convenience.

"That will be another strong piece of evidence to prove our commitment in enhancing customer experience," Li said.

Mercedes-Benz has been seeking to ensure long-term mutual trust with all its dealer partners who must also be able to look to the almost century-old brand for support, Speeks said.

Alongside efforts to improve its dealer network, the final puzzle piece comes on the product side, with the brand vowing to bring a more diverse model range to Chinese customers to maintain its strong momentum.

"It's a key factor that can never be overlooked in further enhancing our ties with customers," said Duan Jianjun, executive vice-president of sales and marketing.

"This year, we will bring more than 15 new models to customers, including the locally produced GLA SUV, new additions to the C-Class model range, as well as new offerings from both AMG and smart," he said.

The company launched the Mercedes-Maybach S 600 and S 400 on Jan 31, and now promises much more. More than 30 models are expected to be on display at Auto China 2015 in Shanghai in April, which should set the tone for another year of success.

Beyond introducing its strong lineup, this year's marketing campaign and test-drive events will encourage more customer participation, Duan said, adding that it is necessary for customers to have an inside look.

"Not only from our perspective, but customers should learn the products' superiority based on their own experience," he said.

But as industry observers wait for April, Speeks and his colleagues remain focused on the task at hand - continuing to make headway in the world's most important automobile market.

"We have the products, we have the partners, and we have the momentum, and although it's still early, we have the confidence," he said.

 <FONT color=#333399>Auto special:</FONT> Mercedes-Benz confident of sustaining momentum

The superbly designed Mercedes-Maybach S 600 was recently launched as an exclusive option for the elite of modern China. Provided To China Da Ily


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