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Luxury car maker to boost sales

WITH continuously new product offerings in China, Mercedes-Benz is aiming to boost sales in all vehicle segments to establish a leading position in the world's fastest growing auto market.

The German premier luxury car maker has managed to continue expanding rapidly in the first half of this year thanks to its diversified product strategy.

It sold 27,000 vehicles in China during the first six months to notch a record 50 percent jump from a year ago. The growth not only leads all Mercedes-Benz global markets, but also far surpassed the industry average and other competitors in China.

The flagship S-Class, the SUV family and the domestically produced C-Class have become the major contributors to the auto maker's sales. The newly launched products, including GLK compact SUV, B-Class compact MPV, and Smart compacts, have also helped to attract new customers and demonstrated promising market potential.

"Firstly, we introduced several new cars," said Klaus Maier, president and chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz China.

"On the other hand, we have been the fastest growing premier brand in the last of the few years in China and people appreciate our brand. Finally, we have the highest customer satisfaction ratings and our dealers are totally committed to offer the best service to customers."

According to Maier, the company is "now in a very good position that we can really be quite aggressive in the market."

Sales of BMW, the world's largest luxury car maker, rose 24 percent to 37,627 units during the same period while Volkswagen's premier brand Audi sold 66,866 vehicles for a rise of 10 percent.

As sales shrank in Western countries, China became the heated battle ground for all luxury car makers, where continuous economic growth kept pushing up demand.

Mercedes-Benz yesterday launched its brand-new E-Class luxury sedans in China. The two imported models boast a slew of specialized designs to meet the need of Chinese customers, which include an extended 20 millimeter wheelbase as Chinese usually favor big size when considering to buy an executive sedan.

"In the long term, this car is extremely important for us," said Maier.

"Besides the S-Class, it is always the heart of Mercedes. We have always been the global leader in this segment, but we will still improve the performance of the E-Class in China," he said.

Mercedes-Benz started pre-sales of the new E-Class at the Shanghai Auto Show in April and so far it has received more than 6,000 pre-orders.

"This clearly shows the positive response for the E-Class, so we are really very confident we can achieve quite high numbers and we can gain high market share in this segment," Maier said.

In order to keep the strong growth momentum, a remodeled S-Class premier sedan is expected to hit the market at the end of next month to reinforce Mercedes-Benz's leading position in the premium car market in China.

The car maker is also preparing for localized output of the new E-Class next year.

For the first half of this year, the luxury car market in China expanded by 12 percent, slightly lower than the 18 percent increase for the overall auto market.

For the second half of the year in China, Maier forecast the vehicle market and luxury car segment would expand at a minimum 12 percent of the first half of this year.

"If you put the growth rate of the total market with our additional products, I think this clearly indicates we can achieve higher sales numbers and I am very, very optimistic, at least for our brand in the second half," he said.

In order to support the stronger market demand, Maier said about 15 to 20 dealers will be formed this year and would gradually cover third and fourth-tier cities.

The car maker now runs 126 dealer outlets in 65 cities across China.


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