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Interview with Mercedes sales manager Ola Källenius: & # 34; China will be our largest market by 2020 & # 34;

Interview with Mercedes sales manager Ola Källenius
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If you read the latest reports, 2014 seems to be a record year for you will. Right?

K ällenius: Yes, 2014 will be a record year. We currently have a sales increase of over twelve percent. The products are extremely well received by our customers. The new C-Class is getting off to a strong start in the USA and China.

But you're not just starting with the new C-Class.

Källenius: That is correct. We have real model fireworks. The S-Class is extremely popular. Never before have customers received 100,000 luxury sedans in the first year of full availability. This is a milestone for us.

That means you are expecting over 1.5 million cars to be sold this year?

Källenius: We never comment on such assumptions. But I think everyone can calculate that for themselves, if you look at our strong growth.

What are the best markets at the moment?

Källenius: Germany is a stable and important market - the overall market will remain a little under three million units this year. The T-Model of the C-Class has just come onto the market in our home market and the incoming orders are excellent! Western Europe and Southern Europe: The turning point has been reached, we are growing fairly dynamically and in double digits. Our new compacts and the C-Class are especially popular.

And the USA?

Källenius: We will have another record year there. Sales of the new C-Class are just starting in the USA. In Asia, the most important and largest market is of course China, which will eventually replace the USA as number one. At the moment, however, the US is ahead of Germany and China. Japan and South Korea are also very strong for us - and even Russia, where we are in the plus compared to other brands.

When will China become your biggest market?

Källenius: Definitely by 2020.

Whatdid you learn from the pilot project of your online store?

Källenius: After almost a year in Hamburg and half a year in Warsaw - that are our two pilot projects - one thing is clear: a lot of interested parties use this digital portal to talk to us. It's like a virtual shop window. The users chat with us, book a test drive or make an appointment with a seller. The main use is information and direct digital access to retail. That works extremely well, and some even go all the way: For example, they buy an E-Class Estate over the Internet.

Do customers get cheaper prices online?

Källenius: No, that's exactly what we don't do. Although one or the other customer might speculate on it. Regardless of whether the purchase is made online or through the dealer - the prices remain the same. Our vehicles are always delivered by regional dealers. The digital world is a complement to this.

Your new model names may seem logical, but don't be afraid that customers will be confused if suddenly there is no M-Class there is more?

Källenius: I was in the M-Class development team in the 90s, so I'm practically with the M-Class by you. If we take such a step now, it is important that the new logic is implemented consistently and that it fits. With the new nomenclature, the customer is always in the foreground, because it provides orientation and is logically structured.

You have certainly tested the new model names on customers beforehand. What was the result?

Källenius: Of course we discussed this intensively with customers and dealers. It became very clear that the basic logic of our classes is already understood by everyone: S, E, C, B, A. And there were deviations from this, especially with the off-road vehicles. The grandfather of all off-road vehicles is the G. It stands above all, where G clearly stands for 'off-road'. We already use the abbreviation GL - for the GLA we implemented the change in nomenclature when it was launched.

And since the year of the many new SUVs is just around the corner, you had to act.

Källenius: We didn't have to, but we wanted to. We are renewing the M-Class, we are bringing a completely new SUV coupé, we are renewing the GL and we are bringing the completely redeveloped successor to the GLK. We will completely reorganize our SUV world within twelve months. So now is the right time to transfer the logic S, E, C, B, A to the SUV as well. It is oneone time chance. And auto motor und sport wrote that the GL was the S-Class among SUVs. Logically, he is now the GLS. Even if the designation M-Class is replaced by GLE: Everyone understands the new logic immediately.

Then only one GLB is missing, right?

Källenius: Let's put it this way: As things stand today, there are no plans for this.

The luxury sector is getting wider, and companies like Bentley also want to expand. How do you react to that? Maybach could be more than just the sub-brand of an S-Class.

Källenius: We have had very good experiences with our sub-brand AMG. We are doing very well there. And the core brand Mercedes-Benz is the most valuable car brand in the world anyway. What sportiness is for AMG, exclusivity will be for Mercedes-Maybach. If I sit in the back and I am 1.95 meters tall, then I can lower the seat and lie stretched out. The interior size even exceeds the Maybach 57, although it is the significantly longer vehicle. Maximum exclusivity and maximum individuality - that's Mercedes-Maybach.

Also conceivable in an SUV?

Källenius: There are no plans here either at the moment. We are picking up our previous Maybach customers with the new Mercedes Maybach limousine, but we also want to convince our competitors. If an even longer and more representative vehicle in the style of a state car is desired, I could well imagine a new Pullman.

In our test reports you can clearly see that the Mercedes vehicles are more expensive than their rivals from Audi and BMW in virtually every segment. Can you stick to this pricing policy in the long term?

Källenius: It is a clear strategy from Mercedes-Benz for the added value that we offer our customers offer to call up a price premium as well. In every country in the world, Mercedes-Benz is positioned higher than the relevant competitors, which is also reflected in the pricing. In the end, of course, it is the customer who decides, whom we have to convince with our offers.

How has the average age of Mercedes buyers developed in the meantime due to the introduction of the visually younger compact models?

Källenius: I can tell you a number: With our compacts we have become ten years younger thanks to the new models. This is a minor sensation in our industry.

What proportion of plug-in cars do you expect in 2015?

Källenius: TheThe initial response to the S 500 e has been very positive, and in three years' time we will be offering a broad spectrum with ten plug-in models: from the C to the S class, and a few SUVs will also be added. The plug-in hybrid is an integral part of our product strategy and offers great potential for the sales of Mercedes-Benz. We will continue to invest heavily in this technology.

Now we come to the purely electric cars: Are you actually developing a Tesla opponent?

Källenius: We have shown what is possible with the Smart Electric Drive, the B-Class Electric Drive and the SLS Electric Drive. At least if you let the engineers live out their wildest dreams. Is this the end of our electric strategy now? Certainly not!


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