Daimler's Mercedes-Benz outlines strategic plan for China growth

Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:52pm EDT
 
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By Norihiko Shirouzu

BEIJING (Reuters) - Daimler AG's (DAIGn.DE: Quote) Mercedes-Benz will launch around 20 new or upgraded car models in China over the next two years, part of a broader turnaround effort aimed at reversing the brand's recent struggles in the world's biggest auto market.

Unveiling details of the strategy in Beijing on Tuesday, Daimler's new China chief, Hubertus Troska, said the company would spend 2 billion euros ($2.67 billion) over the next two years as it seeks to boost sales of Mercedes-Benz cars in China by a third to more than 300,000 cars a year by 2015.

The plan, a key component of Mercedes' broader "2020 initiative", includes expanding manufacturing capacity and its sales network in a country where car density is still relatively low.

"There is a lot of room for development," Troska told a news briefing. "We are very confident this market is going to grow significantly in the next years. We are seeing it this year and we firmly believe it will continue in the next years."

If the sales target were achieved it would make China the brand's biggest market globally. Last year Mercedes-Benz sold slightly more than 200,000 cars in China, currently its No. 3 market behind Germany and the United States.

Troska's turnaround initiative will kick off with the China launch of a significantly redesigned E-class sedan on Friday at an auto show in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

That will be followed quickly by a China launch of the overhauled flagship S-class sedan during the third quarter of this year, as well as a more affordable small sport-utility vehicle (SUV) called the GLA next year.

STRUGGLING FOR TRACTION   Continued...

 
The bonnet emblem of a Mercedes-Benz car is pictured in a dealership of German car manufacturer Daimler in Munich May 17, 2013. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle