Friday January 25, 2013
Mercedes-Benz lines up new models this year
By EUGENE MAHALINGAM
KUALA LUMPUR: Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Sdn Bhd is optimistic of continuous growth for its passenger car segment this year, boosted by a growing affluent middle-income group, stable economic conditions and new model launches.
“We expect to see continuous growth for our passenger car segment. We will be coming up with exciting models and Malaysia has a strong affluent middle class,” said president and chief executive officer Roland S. Folger (pic) in an interview.
“And with the Government striving to turn the country into a high-income nation, this will only be good for our business.”
Mercedes-Benz passenger car sales hit an all-time high last year, rising 7% to 5,809 units from 5,431 units in 2011. Its commercial vehicle sales, meanwhile, grew 12% to 2,276 vehicles last year from 2,036 vehicles in 2011.
Mercedes-Benz sold the second most number of vehicles in the premium segment last year. The market leader was BMW Malaysia, which sold over 6,300 passenger cars last year, according to data from the Malaysian Automotive Association.
Folger attributed this to Mercedes-Benz's aging fleet of vehicle models. It's main competitor, he felt, had a new line of vehicle models to offer its customers.
Folger said Mercedes-Benz would be introducing a new line-up of vehicle models within the next 12 to 24 months.
“We had an aging product line-up compared with our closest competitor. It's a cycle. In 2006, when our vehicle line-up was reaching the end of its life-cycle, we had a close shave (in terms of sales) with our nearest competitor.
“A typical vehicle life-cycle lasts between six and seven years, so our product cycle was towards its end last year. Looking forward, we are more optimistic about what we'll be offering.”
Folger declined to reveal what the company's new model would be, disclosing only that Mercedes-Benz expected to have its first launch of the year in the second half of 2013.
“We might launch earlier, but for now, it will be in the second half of 2013.”
On another point, Folger said he was optimistic about the growth prospects of the local premium car segment.
“I'm definitely not seeing any reason why it should slow down. Everyone is talking about the elections, but I'm not seeing why people should be postponing their sales. I see continuous growth on the same level as last year.”
Folger said the local premium vehicle segment grew about 15% last year in terms of sales.