Mercedes-Benz still third in global luxury sales race after nine months

Article by Anita Panait, on October 11, 2012

Mercedes-Benz continues to lag behind the race to become the best-selling luxury car maker in the world in 2012, latest sales figures show. For the first nine months of 2012, Mercedes delivered 964,900 cars and sport-utility vehicles worldwide, equivalent to a 5-percent year-on-year increase. However, Mercedes failed to narrow the sales gap between the carmaker and rivals Audi and BMW.

As of the end of September 2012, current no. 1 BMW had a sales lead of around 145,000 vehicles, while current runner-up Audi had a sales lead of around 132,600 units. The growing gap between Mercedes and its rivals could be attributed to a fragment strategy in China, slow expansion of entry-level models as well as an aging S-class sedan.

The current situation further dims the full-year target of Mercedes chief executive Dieter Zetsche to regain the much-coveted best-seller crown.

Christian Ludwig, an analyst with Bankhaus Lampe in Dusseldorf, remarked that Mercedes' problems are home-made problems and it would be hard for the carmaker to claim the no. 1 spot since its rivals are working hard as well. In September 2011, Zetsche made it a goal for Mercedes to become the best-selling and most profitable luxury-car brand by 2020.

At the time, Mercedes’ CEO said it was "impossible" for the brand to accept being third. A year later, Zetsche has yet to achieve that goal. He even disclosed in September 2012 that Mercedes car division’s earnings before interest and taxes would drop and fail to match the full-year figure in 2011.

In response, Mercedes is planning a savings program dubbed "Fit for Leadership." At the Paris auto show in September, Zetsche didn't reaffirm a Mercedes's target for a 2013 operating profit of 10 percent of sales.

With sales set to commence in spring 2011, the latest iteration of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been thoroughly overhauled. Both the front and rear sections of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class now feature a more stunning styling.

In particular, the front end of the C-Class now closely adopts the brand's new design language. Its front bumper has been given a more dynamic contour, further reinforcing the shape of the radiator grille as the focal element of the car’s front end. Serving as the visual element for the radiator grille is the car’s V-shaped central air intake, with pronounced side sections extending from the center. These sections continue below the headlights, and then blend into the feature lines along the flanks to connect with the sides. The bumper also features low-positioned side air inlets that lend the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class a road-hugging stance.

Both the saloon and the estate versions of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class are provided with a new aluminum bonnet, which features a contour around the headlamps and the radiator grille. This contour helps highlight the V-shape of the car’s front end.

Meanwhile, Mercedes also tweaked the shape of the car’s clear-lens headlamps, thereby making them more dynamic. The tweak also help the headlamps become in concert – in terms of styling – with the new radiator grille, aluminum bonnet and bumper. Both the exterior form of the headlamps and the interior of the housings help give the new Mercedes C-Class have a modern resolute impression, especially when they feature a unique interplay between matt and high-gloss areas. Mercedes also arranged the car’s halogen headlamps in a classic way -- low beam on the outside, main beam on the inside and indicators on the outer corner.

Topics: mercedes-benz, sales

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