In a bid to further tailor fit its Mercedes-Benz brand to the likings of rich consumers in China and trimming the sales gap with Audi and BMW brands, Daimler has commenced operations of a research and development center in Beijing. Hubertus Troska, Daimler's China chief, remarked to Reuters that the r&d center demonstrates the carmaker’s desire to "embed us more deeply in China, to make cars best suited to China."
It also indicates Daimler’s further commitment to China, which Troska says would become Mercedes's largest market as soon as next year. To better man the center, Daimler is increasing to hike its engineering workforce in Beijing from the current 350 people to 500 specialists by the end of 2015.
Troska told Reuters in an interview last week that it is only logical to better understand the Chinese market and make sure customer requirements in the region are “properly regarded” early in the process when the carmaker develop a next generation of cars.
Troska has been bolstering Daimler’s capabilities in China since becoming the carmaker’s head in the country in 2012. He has already revamped marketing and sales and has hiked the number of dealers. It was not for naught. Mercedes posted a 30.5-percent jump in sales in Chine in the first nine months of 2014 to 203,485 units, outpacing rivals BMW and Audi.
Audi grew 16 percent in the period to 415,704 vehicles while BMW gained 18 percent to 335,863 units. LMC Automotive expects Mercedes to post 291,000 in sales in China in 2014. On the other hand, Audi and BMW are expected to sell 581,000 and 448,000 units, respectively.
According to Troska, new models like the GLA compact SUV should help Mercedes sell "significantly” over 300,000 units in 2015, a year when the carmaker is expected by LMC Automotive to sell 386,000 vehicles.
Daimler has spent around EUR110 million ($138 million) in recent months in the new r&d center and in another center that recently become operational in Beijing with partner BAIC Motor Corp.