By on November 19, 2012

Mention China to Daimler managers, and with a pained look, they will quickly change the subject. China is the superpower when it comes to conspicuous consumption, and even more conspicuous choices of cars, and horrors, Mercedes is lagging far behind  Audi and BMW, brands that previously had been looked upon with disdain by Daimler managers. Daimler won’t take it anymore, and wants to put a board member in charge of its lagging China business, says Der Spiegel. It will be a demanding job.

German Luxury Brands in China
China October YoY YTD 2012 YoY
Audi 35.899 29.5% 332.959 31.2%
BMW 27,828 51.7% 264,884 35.2%
Mercedes 15,895 -3.9% 160,425 5.5%

In China, Audi and BMW booked double-digit gains in October, Mercedes sales however were 3.9 percent below October 2011. Daimler managers were quick to blame a very strong October in the prior year, but with only 5.5 percent up for the year, Mercedes looks quite anemic. In the world’s largest auto market, Audi sold more than twice the number of units than Mercedes.

Daimler managers cite the fact that their China-produced and their imported cars are sold through separate organizations. Their German colleagues chuckle about the common complaint. Volkswagen cars are even sold through three separate dealer channels in China, two for FAW-VW and SVW each, one for imported Volkswagen.

By putting a board member in charge of China, Daimler follows Volkswagen’s example. In June, Volkswagen installed  Jochem Heizmann as  a board-level Emperor of China.

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9 Comments on “Daimler Wants To Put A Man In Charge Of Flagging China Sales...”

  • avatar

    How many Benz are made in China?

  • avatar

    I have had discusions with people in China about their perceptions of various luxury cars. It seems that Mercedes has the stigma of being an old fogey’s car.

    Now I must say that most Chinese luxury buyers really don’t understand what their car is capable of and they rarely push their car to the limit. I have ridden with business owners with M3’s that shift so early that the car can barely move ahead. It is definitely the badging that sells the car along with it’s peceived capabilities, not the actual use of those capabilities.

    So it is more of a styling, badging, and marketing issue for Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar

      How is that different from anywhere else in Asia, or for that matter, anywhere else in the world?

      AMGs, Ms and RSs are bought all over the world mostly because its the most expensive trim level one can get.

      The other factor that hurts M-B in Asia, especially in China, is the ill thought out human interface of its gadgetry. Gadgets are extremely important in China. M-B accessibility of it’s gadgetry integration borders on the amateurish.

    • 0 avatar

      While watching many movies out of China and Hong Kong around the early 2000s (or maybe even now?), there were a noticeably large number of Audis and BMWs in the movies driven by the actors who portrayed the modern Chinese yuppie types. Not so much MB. Maybe the marketing department dropped the ball.

      Same with my unofficial polling of my mainland Chinese friends – nobody seems to want an MB and prefer the other two. People from Hong Kong seemed to be more ever-loyal to MB, however. But that’s also a side-effect of the current younger generation being poorer than their parents’ generation, and the parents loved their MBs when BMW and Audi were considered cheap imitations.

    • 0 avatar

      Luxury car drivers are the last people to “push their cars to the limit.” Other expensive car owners may different, especially if they are younger, and cocky like Ling Jihua’s kid apparently was. However with new leadership, I expect a lot of this to stop, or at least be toned down.

      Generally, with the Asian (Japanese and Korean) penchant for the Jet Jaguar school of design, I’m always surprised that conservative Audi, and even BMW, do so well over there. The latest Mercs have more than just a little of that weird styling, so you’d think they’d do better. Maybe the Chinese aesthetic is different. I always saw a lot of Mercedes in HK, and across the bay in SZ when they’d drive over.

  • avatar

    Does FAW make branded Audis? Would that be part of the sales total or are all those Audis imported?

  • avatar

    i guess they can install 4 cyl into a 6.3

    perhaps mercs need to do more promotions with movies, see how much JB did for AM 50yrs ago?

    was Bimmer in the last bond movie?

    growing in HK. merc was the car, so as RR, Jags, daimler from old blighty.

    back in 72 as tricky dick nixon was going to visit Middle kingdom, one morn i saw a convoy of 5-6 merc 600 grosser drove north.
    those were intended for the red flag back ups, incase they suffer from nova disease.

    for a while mercs just can’t beat the japanese air cond, as a lot of import suffer from small rad and cause her to boil!

    maybe audi & bmw have better marketing methods to do better in MK.
    mercs should be pretty popular with yakuzas, it used to be jags then fell out of favour.

  • avatar

    I hope Daimler’s new Chinese friends treat Daimler with the same courtesy, respect, and financial stewardship that Daimler treated Chrysler’s resources.

  • avatar

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