Mercedes not chasing volume at any price: Daimler CEO
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler (DAIGn.DE: Quote) Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche insisted on Friday the German carmaker would not sacrifice margins in its quest to overtake arch rival BMW (BMWG.DE: Quote) and become the best-selling luxury car brand.
Zetsche has tasked Mercedes with becoming the leading premium carmaker by 2020 after it sold 1.87 million passenger cars in 2015, leapfrogging Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) Audi on 1.80 million but still trailing BMW on 1.91 million.
"The volume lead should be the consequence of having the best offering," Zetsche said. "If we accomplish this, it is a natural consequence that more people will choose us."
"People said it will create pricing and margin pressure. Exactly the opposite is true," he told analysts at a conference to discuss fourth-quarter results in Stuttgart.
Having a certain level of sales volume gave Mercedes the economies of scale to develop a coupe, a convertible and long-wheelbase version of its top-of-the range S-Class, Zetsche said.
The Mercedes CEO was more upbeat about the brand's prospects in China, given that the overall market was expected to grow 8 percent this year.
"We do see significantly better chances for us based on our product offerings," Zetsche said, adding that demand remained high for some new locally made cars, such as the GLC offroader.
"We have waiting times which are unhealthy already," he gold told analysts, adding that the new E-Class, another volume model, had yet to hit showrooms.