Mercedes-Benz is targeting sales in China to go up by 50% to 300,000 units by 2015, according to Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche. He also said that about two-thirds of Mercedes vehicles sold in China in 2015 will be domestically produced. Zetsche made these announcements earlier this month at Daimler's annual press conference in Stuttgart.
Among the automaker’s plans for this country are the opening of an engine plant in Beijing and the expansion of production of the C-class sedan, long-wheelbase E-class sedan, and its GLK SUV. In addition, the compact B class will begin production in China. Mercedes-Benz will open 50 dealerships every year – most of them will be in China's interior cities.
Zetsche revealed that the turnaround plan after Mercedes-Benz brand sales in China last year increased by just 2% to 196,211 units. In comparison, BMW brand sales rose by 37% to 274,985 units. Meanwhile, sales of premium segment leader Audi improved by 30% to 405,800 units.
Last December, Daimler approved the merger of its Chinese sales operations for imported and locally produced Mercedes cars. It also appointed Hubertus Troska to the management board tasked to oversee China, a new position.
In early February, the automaker announced that it will buy a 12% stake in BAIC Motors Inc., its Chinese joint venture partner, and would get 2 seats in the board of directors. Zetsche added that the positive impact from these changes will be felt over the course of the year.