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Segment domination key to Benz success

C-Class above: The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is Australia’s second-best-selling mid-sizer this year, having outsold the just-replaced Mazda6 to the end of November.

Mercedes-Benz aiming for segment success, not overall sales crown in Australia

10 Dec 2012

UPDATED: 10/12/2012MERCEDES-BENZ Cars Australia will have a record sales year in 2012 and is confident of another in 2013, but is focussing on leading individual market segments rather than toppling arch-rival BMW for overall volume.

A hectic launch schedule of at least six new models – including the vital all-new A-Class hatch and heavily facelifted E-Class – plus new variants of existing models will also keep showrooms buzzing.

Beating Mercedes’ 2010 record of 18,272 passenger cars and SUVs will be achieved this year despite constrained supply of the B-Class hatch and M-Class SUV, including at least two months of zero supply early in the year as stock of the outgoing models dried up.

Topping the segment for mid-size cars priced over $60,000 for the sixth year running is the C-Class sedan and wagon with 5970 units to the end of November, representing growth of 4.9 per cent despite an ageing model and the arrival of BMW’s all-new 3 Series earlier this year.

Incredibly, the C-Class has become the second-best-selling mid-sizer in Australia after the Toyota Camry, heading the just-replaced Mazda6 (5947 units).

Despite the supply squeeze, 2520 M-Class SUVs have been sold, coming close to toppling the BMW X5 (2553 units) that traditionally occupies top spot in the large SUV over $70,000 segment.

 center imageFrom top: MBA managing director Horst Von Sanden Mercedes-Benz B-Class SLK GL-Class ML-Class.

Another supply constrained car, the B-Class, is also close behind its BMW rival, with 1717 units to the 1 Series’ 1806.

The E-Class coupe and cabriolet have a dominant 22.9 per cent share of the segment for sportscars over $80,000, while 673 sales of the SLK roadster mean it comprehensively outsells the BMW Z4 (115 units) and Audi TT (264 units) for sportscars under $80K.

In upper-large SUVs over $100,000, the gargantuan GL-Class has a 44 per cent share, selling almost twice as many as the Lexus LX and Range Rover Vogue.

Mercedes-Benz Australia managing director Horst Von Sanden said the company is happy with its performance in what has been a challenging year in which it has worked hard against low consumer confidence and “a high level of aggression in the marketplace”.

“We certainly suffered along the way with some supply issues, which was disappointing,” he said.

“With the outline for the near future and the mid-term future we believe that we can keep up the good position and the good performance of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.”

Sales manager Richard Emery told GoAuto the company will not beat BMW this year and “is not particularly driven by that”.

“We have a number we need to get to for our internal targets and they (BMW) will have their plan, but the fact that we lost so many dozens (due to supply) at the start of the year means it is hard to make a direct comparison,” said Mr Emery.

Mr Von Sanden said it would be “over-ambitious to strive for market leadership at this stage” due to the lack of a competitor for BMW’s popular X1 and X3 SUVs.

“We are ambitious people, but the simple fact is that we don’t compete in a segment in which our competitor has sold 3000 cars,” he said.

Mr Emery added that he “takes it as a win” that MBA “might get beaten by 300-400 cars when BMW have got 3000 X1s and X3s that we can’t compete with”.

Although confident of another record sales year in 2013, Mr Von Sanden said supply shortages of the B-Class and M-Class are likely to last for another 12-18 months due to production capacity.

He also admitted the vital new A-Class, to be launched in March, will face a similar problem.

“There is a plan to open a second (A-Class) plant in Hungary, but until this is operational there will be supply constraints as well,” he said.

What’s coming from Mercedes-Benz:
A-ClassMarch 2013
GLMay 2013
E-Class sedan/wagonmid-2013
S-ClassQ4 2013
E-Class coupe/cabrioletlate 2013
A45 AMGH2 2013
CLA (compact sedan)H2 2013
GLA (compact SUV)2014
GLK (mid-size SUV)2014

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