Mercedes-Benz South Africa takes pole position in major local market segments







Published by Gerald Ferreira Date: February 13, 2012
Categories: Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-Benz Corporate News

Dr Martin ZimmermannMercedes-Benz South Africa takes pole position in major local market segments

  • Dr. Martin Zimmermann, MBSA CEO and President, says:
    • “We’re very satisfied with our sales development. In 2011 we have again led the commercial vehicle market and regained leadership of the premium and luxury passenger car market with our Mercedes-Benz brand.”
    • “In 2012 we expect further growth as we will introduce the new M-Class and B-Class as well as the new SL, and have the first full year of our exciting new generation C-Class.”
  • One in every four commercial vehicles sold in South Africa is from the MBSA brand stable of Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Western Star and FUSO.
  • MBSA continues to clearly lead the commercial vehicle market in the European truck, American truck and Van segments.
  • Mercedes-Benz brand is re-established as the leading premium/luxury car brand, with the new generation C-Class sedan the top seller in its segment.
  • December 2011 with record sales for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, up almost 40% above the previous best December.

Pretoria: South African customer confidence has once again put Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) in the pole position in a number of local market segments for both luxury cars and commercial vehicles.

“We are delighted with the continued support from existing and new customers.  Our wide range of high-quality, exciting and fuel-efficient vehicles is entrenching our market leadership in various areas. This is a clear vote of confidence from our local individual and commercial customers, that our vehicles and services are very well suited to their wants and needs,” says MBSA President and CEO, Dr Martin Zimmermann.

Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars

PASSENGER CARS

In December 2011 MBSA came out ahead in the premium/luxury market, with 1 714 Mercedes-Benz cars sold. This was a new December record, representing an impressive increase of 38% compared to the previous benchmark set in December 2010. Eckart Mayer, MBSA Vice President responsible for Sales and Marketing of Mercedes-Benz Cars adds: “Local sales of cars with the three-pointed star were mainly driven by the new generation C-Class, up year-on-year by 22%, the brand new C-Coupé, SLK and CLS models, as well as a continued strong performance of the popular E-Class and M-Class models.

“With our impressive 2011 registrations of 23 561 Mercedes-Benz cars, we secured the No.1 position for luxury cars - a solid increase of 5% compared to 2010. Our smart registrations accounted for an additional 125 units.”

MBSA achieved a local market share of 7.1% for 2011, which is the highest market share amongst all the major markets worldwide, apart from Germany, for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.

New models introduced in 2011 have been very well received

At the heart of MBSA's success in passenger cars is its unprecedented product offensive in 2011. In total, MBSA introduced eight new models to the South African market, which brought to South African customers some of the most fascinating models the Mercedes-Benz brand has to offer:

  • The new generation C-Class Sedan and Estate models, launched in July, accounted for 13 762 units (up 4.2% vs. 2010), making the C-Class clearly the dominant contender once again in the mid-size luxury segment.
  • E-Class Coupé and Cabrio also put in a very strong performance, with an increase of 33% compared to 2010, reaching a remarkable 819 sales in 2011.
  • A completely new addition to the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, the new C-Class Coupé, notched up a notable 481 units, and simultaneously took immediate segment leadership since its introduction in August and the sales which followed over the last five months of 2011.
  • The style and performance of the new CLS and the SLK have captured the hearts of South African car enthusiasts. While CLS sales surged by 375% to 171 units, the SLK sales almost doubled from 193 units to 374, making it the clear leader in its specific segment.
  • Earlier during the year, the legendary G-Class (“Geländewagen”), considered by many as the best off-road vehicle ever built, was reintroduced to South Africa. Up to December 2011, 83 units of this exclusive model found proud owners among the 4x4 community.

Even models at the end of their lifecycle continued to contribute to growth

Car sales success in 2011 was also driven by strong demand for two major models despite successor introductions being due in 2012. Sales of the multi-talented B-Class increased from 1 189 units to 2 049 units (up 72%) in the last full year of its lifecycle. The full M-Class range, also in the last full year of its lifecycle, achieved solid results of 1 570 sales, slightly up from the 1 546 units recorded last year.

AMG, the performance brand in the MBSA stable, selling a total of 535 units, was down in sales compared to the previous year, mainly due to the non-availability of the iconic volume seller ML63 AMG, which sold out early in 2011.  The brand new ML63 AMG is due to reach South African shores in the 3rd quarter of this year.

The smart is doing well, showing growing acceptance in its niche segment with a 29% increase year-on-year. The smart is not only environmentally friendly, but is also at the forefront in offering urban mobility solutions.

Success driven by industry-leading quality and strong dealer network

“We are extremely pleased with the 2011 results, which were driven by the unique combination of fascinating design, industry-leading quality and safety, innovative technologies with a huge focus on environmental protection, and benchmark residual values that are typical for Mercedes-Benz since we invented the automobile 125 years ago,” says Mayer. He adds: “Supported by the widest dealer network of all the premium brands, customers in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana can be sure of receiving the professional support they deserve, both from a sales as well as from a service perspective. The latest customer satisfaction studies clearly confirm that Mercedes-Benz and our dealers are fully committed to further improving customer experience in all areas.”

Further growth expected for 2012

With the new generation C-Class, the C-Coupé, the CLS and the SLK all having their first full sales year, and three additional exciting models due for introduction in 2012, MBSA expects significant further growth for 2012.  Brand new B-Class and M-Class models will be introduced in the 2nd quarter of 2012, with the new SL coming later during the year.

Dr Zimmermann says: “We share the consensus forecast that growth in the passenger car market this year will slow down considerably compared to 2011, but we are confident that Mercedes-Benz will continue its South African success story by further growing our business in this country and entrenching our leadership as the premium luxury brand.”

Mercedes-Benz Commercial

COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

Commercial vehicle sales at MBSA again ended 2011 as the undisputed leader in the South African commercial vehicle market, with an overall increase of 13.7% to 7 035 units. One in every four commercial vehicles sold in South Africa comes from the commercial vehicle portfolio of MBSA, which includes Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Vans, and Buses; Freightliner; Western Star; and Mitsubishi FUSO.

“We are delighted with the performance of our commercial vehicle portfolio,” says Dr Zimmermann. “The exceptional volume increase in a strongly growing market indicates that our value-chain focussed strategy was the right way to go, as it contributes to the success our commercial customers and lets them concentrate on their core business.”

Good performance in all segments

According to Kobus van Zyl, Vice President responsible for Sales and Marketing of Commercial Vehicles, the underlying market drivers in the transport industry were consistently strong throughout 2011. “This was especially evident in the extra-heavy commercial vehicle market segment, where we have seen an increase of nearly 40% over last year’s figures. We are the biggest seller in this segment and pleased with the performance of all our brands.  Freightliner sales more than doubled to 1 276 units and Mercedes-Benz trucks ended the year on 2 410 units, more than 42% up on 2010."

While the market growth in the Van segment was not as buoyant as was the case in the truck segments, Mercedes-Benz Vans had a ‘stellar’ year with sales growth of 33% to 3 202 units. “We are especially delighted with our Vito and Viano sales where we recorded increased sales of 47.1% to end the year on 1 311 units in this segment,” says Van Zyl. "For 2012, we remain optimistic as a number of niche markets are yet to be explored and we will seriously pursue ways to unlock the sales potential in these,” he adds.

Mitsubishi FUSO has seen a slight decline of its annual sales by 2% vs. 2010. This was due to the negative impact of the natural disaster in Japan, which resulted in supply constraints so that a number of customer orders could not be served. "However, with the resilient support and efforts of our Japanese colleagues we have everything in place once more, and our teams are willing and ready to regain the ground lost and to grow to where the FUSO brand should be,” says Van Zyl.

For 2012, MBSA is expecting another year of growth and strengthening of its commercial vehicle market leadership. “Following the October launch at the Johannesburg International Motor Show of a number of new value-adding products for Mercedes-Benz, we are starting to see very positive indicators; all as a result of our increasing focus on all the lifecycle-cost-reducing measures and programmes.  These are finding favour with our customers; a trend we believe will continue and increase considerably in 2012.

“Also, we are eagerly awaiting the launch of the Freightliner Argosy in the 1st quarter of 2012. We’re confident that this exciting introduction will consolidate our leading American truck brand position, while we also expect significant growth of our Mercedes-Benz truck sales,” explains Van Zyl.

With regard to public transport and bus sales, MBSA is counting on the government’s commitment to execute their long-term public transport strategy and is looking forward to contributing to establishing South Africa as a world leader in efficient and user-friendly mobility and public transport solutions. MBSA, with the broadest portfolio of products of any commercial vehicle manufacturer, is uniquely positioned to drive and benefit from this development, which will contribute to South Africa's success as a whole.

MANUFACTURING

Mercedes-Benz plant in East London remains consistent world-leading quality producer

In 2011, MBSA achieved a production record of over 54 312 Mercedes-Benz C-Classes built in East London (compared to 52 101 in 2010), and expectations are that 2012 production will significantly exceed that of 2011.  Furthermore, the MBSA plant was again awarded the prestigious Gold Award of J.D. Power and Associates in their 2011 US Initial Quality Survey, winning such high accolades for the third year in a row.

Arno van der Merwe, manufacturing plant and East London site leader for MBSA, adds: "This shows that world-class operations can be established in South Africa, something of which we are certainly very proud. It also assures our South African customers that they will not only get the best product available, but will be contributing to shaping a bright future for South Africa as a whole."

MBSA considers the East London plant achievements as indicative of its long-term commitment not only to sell vehicles to local customers, but also to use South Africa as a production hub for both domestic consumption and substantial export business - a part of the operation which is bound to grow with the production of the next generation C-Class. Accordingly, MBSA started construction work at the end of 2011, executing the plan to almost double C-Class production capacity in East London by 2014.

"With this investment, we are building on our ambition to secure and create more jobs, and to invest in both our East London plant as well as in our people,” adds Dr Zimmermann.

In line with this commitment and MBSA's holistic sustainability strategy, MBSA will continue to roll out the latest technologies, environmental-friendly plant processes and technologies, as well as the latest petrol- and diesel engines that will further reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.

Dr Zimmermann concludes: “Generally, from an industry perspective we will continue to strengthen our call for improved fuel quality, we will pursue opportunities which contribute to better road and driving safety and will continue to drive our widely recognised social and community contributions, like our HIV/AIDS and Trucking Wellness programmes.”