• New production record set with over 1.49 million passenger cars.
• Model initiative for compact, high-end and luxury segment well under way.
• Smart electric drive is market leader in Germany.
• 'Mercedes-Benz 2020 – Best Customer Experience' marketing and sales initiative launched.
• First premium manufacturer to offer new vehicles online.
• Greater customer focus through sales restructuring.
It is the end of an important year for Mercedes-Benz.
With over 1.4 million passenger cars sold in 2013, the Stuttgart-based premium manufacturer is not only on track for its best sales figures ever. Its annual production of over 1.49 million vehicles means that Mercedes-Benz has also surpassed the previous year's record for the third year running. The Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy is already showing tangible results.
"In 2013, we have taken a decisive step forward in our strategy for growth. Our model initiative is well under way. The new 'Best Customer Experience' sales and marketing initiative has allowed us to align ourselves better to the needs of our customers. At the same time, we are also optimising our internal sales structures," said Ola Källenius, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars responsible for Marketing & Sales. "That means we are well positioned to make 2014 a record year as well."
Model Initiative Delivers Results
In April 2013, Mercedes-Benz introduced the new E-Class and the CLA compact coupe. The CLA is the third vehicle in the compact car family and the first that Mercedes-Benz has also made available to the US market in September. The coupe has quickly become a top seller: In only four months, over 12,000 vehicles were delivered to US customers.
Demand for the new S-Class was also so high in the few weeks following its market launch in summer 2013 that it has become the best-selling luxury sedan in the world. This was only possible because production started up in record time at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen. S-Class vehicles for global distribution are rolling off the production line here in a two-shift operation. Production is currently running to full capacity at an output of around 460 vehicles per day, the highest daily output ever for the S-Class. Thus Mercedes-Benz will be starting the new year with its biggest range of new models since 2009.
Expansion of the Product Network Continues
Production capacity was not only expanded at the Sindelfingen plant in 2013 as part of the Mercedes-Benz strategy for growth. In addition to the billion Euros invested there in the past year, the company also invested 1.2 million Euros in the Rastatt plant aligning for compact car production. More than one billion Euros will be invested into the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen, primarily for the preparations for the plant's role as center of competence for the new C-Class. In order to align production to market and customer needs, a decision was also taken in 2013 to invest over 300 million euros in additional powertrain capacity at the Romanian subsidiary Star Transmission. Together with the Chinese Partner BAIC, investments of about four billion euros are scheduled within the coming years to expand local production as well as build a new engine plant in China. In October the Stuttgart-based car maker announced that the next generation of the C-Class and the new GLA would be produced at a plant near São Paulo in Brazil, for which a further investment of around 170 million euros is planned. However, Germany is and will be the heart of the global production network.
Smart Goes Electric
Even the smallest model in the product portfolio of Mercedes-Benz Cars has made it big in 2013. Since the market launch of the smart fortwo, over 1.5 million of the compact two-seaters have been sold. The electric version of the smart car became the number one battery-powered electric vehicle in Germany, securing a market share of around 40 percent. Some 1,200 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles are continuously deployed around the world in the car2go mobility service. Since November, the electric smart has also been on sale in China, making it available in a total of 14 markets.
Even Pope Francis has now joined the ranks of electric vehicle users. Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, presented the Head of the Catholic Church with a smart ebike during his visit in July.
China – Focus on New Sales Company Pays Off
2013 was also a key year for the passenger car business in China. Since starting up the new sales company Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co. Ltd. (BMBS) in March, business in China has gathered pace and is steadily growing. With the market launch of the A-Class in spring and the premieres of the long-wheelbase version of the E-Class and the new S-Class in autumn, three key model series have been introduced in the Chinese market. The Asian country is the biggest market for the S-Class, which has been specially tailored to the needs of Chinese customers. More than half of all S-Class sedans are sold there.China is also one of the top markets for the E-Class. A hybrid version of the luxury-class sedan, manufactured at the local production plant, was recently launched there: The E400 is the first locally produced hybrid by a German premium car maker.
Mercedes-Benz also is substantially expanding its dealer network in China. This year saw the opening of 75 new dealerships, 36 of which were in cities where the brand had not been represented before. The smart dealer network is also growing: By the end of the year there will be around 100 sales and service outlets in 70 Chinese cities.
Sales and Marketing Initiative Launched
This summer, the company consolidated its global strategic product initiative with the 'Mercedes-Benz 2020 – Best Customer Experience' sales and marketing initiative. Mercedes-Benz is reconfiguring its sales organisation to align it with the changing preferences of customers. The Stuttgart-based premium manufacturer is increasing its inner-city presence to get into direct contact with existing and prospective customers. Mercedes-Benz opened its newest city stores in Tokyo in 2011, in Milan in 2012 and in Osaka in 2013. By 2020 the number of these stores is set to more than double to over 40 worldwide.
Temporary sales formats offer additional contact points with customers: During the summer, a Mercedes-Benz pavilion in Warsaw attracted over 20,000 visitors. There were 600 test drives of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The pavilion also served as a venue for over 80 events. Thousands of fans followed the events on Facebook. For many visitors, it was their first ever contact with the brand.Another integral part of the new sales and marketing initiative is online vehicles sales. Since the beginning of December, Mercedes-Benz has been the first premium manufacturer to sell new cars on the internet. Within four weeks, over 60,000 prospective customers have visited the online platform and the first orders have already been placed. This digital sales channel complements the traditional dealerships and is intended to appeal mainly to young and media-savvy customer groups. It means that Mercedes-Benz is available for customers anywhere and anytime.
Greater Customer Focus through Sales Restructuring
To further improve its focus on customers and markets, Daimler took the decision in September to restructure the organisation of the whole company more clearly along divisional lines. Responsibility for the key sales functions and the most important markets will thus rest directly with the business divisions Cars, Trucks and Vans. For the Group, this represents another strategic step forward in achieving its growth targets.