Business / Auto China

Mercedes-Benz reaffirms commitment to China

By Li Fusheng (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-25 10:34

Mercedes-Benz reaffirms commitment to China

After another successful year in China, key executives from Mercedes-Benz joined this year's Auto China to highlight their commitment to China.

China is a key market for the German automaker, becoming their largest last year and providing a strong engine for the brand's growth. This is despite challenges posed to the company in China, including the slowing growth of the overall automotive industry, impacts from emerging new business models, and the changing consumption patterns of consumers.

However, executives from Mercedes-Benz remain confident in the Chinese economy, and the overall prospects for the automotive market here. "Last year was a strong one for Mercedes-Benz, and we are satisfied with our performance in China," said Nicholas Speeks, president and CEO of Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service, also known as BMBS.

Speeks noted that this success was not due to just one factor, but an array of different initiatives the company has undertaken in China. "Thanks to the right products, our strong relationships with our dealers, pro-active customer care initiatives, and hard work, we saw more than 363,000 units sold last year. That represented 35 percent year-on-year growth," he said, indicating the company achieved the target it set at the beginning of the year.

An equally impressive expansion of their local dealer network supported the company's growth last year.

"By the end of 2015, we brought our total dealer outlets to around 500, with strong coverage in over 200 cities," said Li Hongpeng, senior executive vice-president at BMBS.

He attributed the successful network expansion to the close ties the automaker maintains with its dealer partners.

"Our good relationships with our dealer partners are the result of the strong communications mechanisms we've put in place. This has been vital in ensuring mutual trust and aligning our business goals."

This includes efforts to add additional convenience with new customer-oriented service initiatives this year.

"Only by building a happy relationship based on mutual trust with our dealer partners can we lay the foundation for sustainable growth and achieve our goal, ensuring that every customer receives the world-class service for which Mercedes-Benz is known," Li explained.

With 130 years of brand heritage, Mercedes-Benz is also committed to living up to its reputation as a responsible corporate citizen.

A large part of the company's China commitment is not its business efforts, but its ongoing CSR programs, which began over eight years ago.

Programs supported by its Star Fund cover areas as diverse as road safety, environmental protection, and education support in underprivileged regions.

"Strong CSR efforts are a key part of how we fulfil our social responsibility and support Chinese social development," Li said.

These efforts are just one way the company is firmly planting its roots in China. Another is through localization of production.

By laying this essential strategic foundation for long-term and significant participation in the growth of the key Chinese market, Mercedes-Benz is increasingly looking to localization to provide its Chinese customers with the products that meet their needs.

Among the more than 15 new models introduced to China last year, were the GLA and the GLC, two powerful models made at their joint venture Beijing Benz that continued the company's "Year of the SUV".

Local production of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars began in 2005 with the E-Class, followed in spring 2008 with the C-Class.

According to Duan Jianjun, executive vice-president, sales and marketing at BMBS, Beijing Benz Automotive - BBAC, represents the firm confidence Mercedes-Benz has in the Chinese market: "We've never let up with our local investment, to give our customers the best products that most fulfill their needs.

With more than 10 models slated for this year, Mercedes-Benz is continuing from last year with a strong product offensive."

"The success of our local production has continued in the first quarter of 2016, with locally produced vehicles accounting for 68 percent of our sales volume in China," Duan said.

"And this year we have another star of our local production - the All New Long-Wheelbase E-Class."

"The All New Long-Wheelbase E-Class is designed and made exclusively for China," Duan said. "It lives up to its reputation as 'the most intelligent executive sedan' in the world as it pioneers features that bring us closer to autonomous driving."

Another way Mercedes-Benz is showing its China commitment is through creating more opportunities for people in China to experience its brand and products - and not just those that are already Mercedes-Benz customers.

On Saturday, the new "Mercedes me Sanlitun" opened in Beijing to provide Chinese consumers a new way to see the brand, part of Mercedes-Benz' "Best Customer Experience" marketing strategy.

" 'Mercedes me Sanlitun' is an exciting new initiative under our 'Mercedes me' brand experience, and the largest so far. It presents our brand in a completely new environment, and in an entirely new way - with a restaurant and caf�� to meet with friends, a boutique for shopping, and lots more that bring Mercedes-Benz into people's lives," said Speeks.

With these new efforts to reach additional consumers, Mercedes-Benz is looking ahead to another successful year.

"This year we remain confident in the Chinese market, and wish to sustain our growth with reasonable expectations," said Speeks. "We will sustain our growth with continuing efforts to do the right things and continuing to do things right."

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