Eckart Mayer, Vice President, Sales & Marketing Passenger Cars, Mercedes-Benz South Africa
PERSONAL COMMENT (30 seconds)
2011 has been an extremely busy year for us, packed with exciting model introductions and there are quite a few more phenomenal products to follow to complete our 125th anniversary celebrations.
The passion stirred by all these new models, has been evident in our dealerships and is reflected in our excellent sales results for the first 9 months of 2011. We are the No. 1 Premium Brand in South Africa, clearly outperforming our closest competitor. Our locally built C-Class continues to dominate the luxury mid-size segment, now entering its 5th year since market introduction.
True to the words of Carl Benz: “The passion for inventing will never die”, Mercedes-Benz plays a leading role in shaping the future of the automobile and its premium segment. We continue to launch ground-breaking new technologies, as has been witnessed at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show with the F125. This fuel cell powered, zero emission car has an operating range of 1 000 km, taking sustainable mobility to a new level. We as the inventor of the automobile see the car of the future being very different: greener, more efficient, safer, and even more fascinating!
Mercedes-Benz has been successful in demonstrating the every-day utility of emission-free driving in the Mercedes-Benz F-CELL World Drive earlier this year. Three B-Class F-CELL cars completed a 125-day trip around the world. The tour covered four continents, fourteen countries and 30 000 km, demonstrating that this technology suits every day use.
With South Africa not having been part of this event, we take great pleasure in presenting one of these B-Class F-CELL models to you today. The main benefits of this technology are: environmentally friendly production and recycling, high range, short refuelling times and zero emissions.
Talking about sustainable mobility: The smart brand continues to shape future urban mobility world-wide, even in the 13th year of its existence.
The new generation smart fortwo was introduced earlier this year with substantial interior and exterior upgrades, and an even more environmentally friendly micro-hybrid drive engine with start/stop technology.
Large-volume series production of the electric smart has started, and will be marketed to more than 30 countries. The 3rd generation of our electric smart comes with a significantly improved range of up to 140 km, shorter loading time, more power and increased top speed of over 120 km/h.
In conjunction with the smart fortwo, we are delighted to present to you the smart ebike, which has attracted a lot of attention in Europe. With this ebike, smart for the first time transfers its concept of urban mobility to two wheels. The ebike will be launched in the first half of 2012 in Europe and North America, and we are currently evaluating opportunities for South Africa.
Coming back to Mercedes-Benz, we continue to exploit all possibilities to improve our vehicles and drive systems, including the further optimisation of our state-of-the-art combustion engines.
One good example of the remarkable improvements are our new generation four-cylinder diesel engines and the latest BlueDIRECT petrol range. These engines have already been launched in conjunction with our recent model introductions, and will shortly be rolled out to other type classes, including the E-Class.
The ECO Start/Stop feature guarantees a comfortable and immediate starting procedure, whilst conserving substantial amounts of fuel. Standard in a number of our vehicles, this intelligent technology forms part of the BlueEFFICIENCY package.
The rollout of the BlueEFFICIENCY measures for all Mercedes-Benz models started in 2008. By the end of 2010 we were able to offer 85 BlueEFFICIENCY models, leading to fuel savings which in many cases exceed the 20% mark.
The potential harboured by all development areas is being tapped, from lightweight construction and optimised aerodynamics to the electrification of ancillary components.
Internationally, we have already rolled out a number of hybrid models, such as the S400 Hybrid, and the E300 BlueTec Hybrid.
We are looking forward to bring all our latest products to South Africa, but for various high-tech technologies, we depend on the nationwide availability of clean diesel and gasoline fuel, as well as the required infrastructure for non-traditional combustion solutions.
Safety has always been a top priority at Mercedes-Benz.
All of our activities are conducted in line with findings from real-life accidents.
We concentrate equally on:
• Minimising the severity of accidents,
• Individualised occupant protection, and
• Pedestrian safety.
Today, based on our innovative strength, we offer a broad portfolio of fascinating vehicles, ranging from compact cars and luxury sedans to roadsters, SUVs, and super sports cars like our iconic SLS AMG.
Mercedes-Benz has been, and continues to be, a pioneer in the area of responsibility, fascination and perfection for over 125 years.
Superior products are only one element that has made Mercedes-Benz the No.1 premium brand in this country. What is equally important is our consequent focus on Customer Satisfaction. Whoever buys a car with the three-pointed star expects nothing but the best, which is a challenge that we and our dealers across Southern Africa gladly accept. With the most comprehensive network coverage of all luxury brands, our customers can be assured of receiving the professional sales and service experience they deserve.
Our extensive product line-up is showcased here at the Johannesburg International Motor show, which is an ideal platform to give our loyal and potential customers a close look at our current offering. Let me give you a brief outline of a few of our highlights:
Our new-generation C-Class is characterised by its dynamic exterior design and a superior high-quality interior, while the engines in the new C-Class provide substantially improved fuel efficiency. Sophisticated assistance systems help the driver in whatever traffic situation. We have also included a new generation of telematics, like COMAND Online, which features GPS navigation, Linguatronic, a huge music register and internet access. All of these enhancements, with 2 000 new components, take the C-Class into new levels of safety, comfort and performance.
Expressive, sporty, youthful and dynamic – these words sum up our C-Class Coupé, and clearly show the strategic direction of our latest product offensive: attracting a young, trendy and sophisticated target group.
Soon to be introduced is the C 63 AMG, both in the sedan and coupé variants. The C 63 AMG gives advanced motoring thrill and the unique drive system increases its attractiveness. The award-winning AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine, with maximum output of 336 kW and peak torque of 600 Nm, is the embodiment of emotion and dynamism at their very best. To date more than 68 000 of these engines have been built – a record in the history of AMG. The AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission combines performance with drive comfort and at the same time substantially reduces fuel consumption.
Assured and athletic, dynamic and desirable: the all-new C 63 AMG Coupé is compelling, not just from the point of view of its engineering, but also because of its striking appearance. We, and many of our customers, await the launch with much anticipation!
Our brand-new SLK is made for the open roads any time of the year, making it the technology leader amongst the growing number of product offerings in its class. It sets new safety standards in the roadster segment and is the most fuel-efficient in its class. Innovations such as MAGIC SKY CONTROL underline the trendsetting role that the SLK has played since its worldwide premiere. Customers can turn the panoramic roof light or dark at the push of a button.
Our E-Class range, which many consider the “heart” of our brand, today offers class-leading technology and more variety than ever before. Both the E-Class Coupé and the Cabrio have received an overwhelming response from car enthusiasts from all age groups as well as all social and cultural backgrounds.
Just three weeks ago, we also introduced the brand new CLS into the South African market, featuring new engines with higher output and torque than their predecessors while at the same time consuming up to 25 percent less fuel. The new CLS is also the first of our models to feature electromechanical direct steering. All our new models launched over the last three months have been very well received in the market, given their technical superiority, as well as for their emotional appeal. This has attracted both traditional Mercedes-Benz drivers, as well as many customers coming from other brands.
The S-Class is undoubtedly the innovation leader in the area of safety and comfort, and the new S350 BlueTEC combines these virtues with the excellent fuel consumption and emission values of a mid-size model. At 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres and CO2 emissions of 177 g/km, the S350 BlueTEC demonstrates that it is one of the most efficient upper-premium luxury sedans.
Our SUV-range, previously limited to the M-Class and the GL, welcomed a new member in April this year with the return of the legendary G-Class, previously known as “Gelaendewagen”. Significant improvements regarding fuel efficiency have been made for all our SUVs, including the G350 BLUETEC offering.
And now let’s move on to our very exciting vehicle reveals, which bear living testimony to the fact that our desire for innovation is as strong as ever.
It’s a great honour for me to present to you another iconic Mercedes-Benz. Or – to be more precise – a new Mercedes AMG. Even standing still, this product gives one the illusion that it is travelling at great speed into the automotive hall of fame, just one year after AMG created another future vintage car.
• 420 kW of power
• 650 Nm of torque
• 0 – 100km/h in just 3,8 seconds
• Breath-taking looks
• …and a name that has already created goose bumps all around the globe since its first appearance…
Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to put your hands together for the World Premiere of the Right-Hand Drive version of the SLS AMG Roadster…
SLS AMG ROADSTER REVEAL
And now, I would like to offer you a glimpse into our future, as we consistently continue to rejuvenate our product range. At the same time, this model could be considered a work of contemporary automotive art. It will turn heads and convert the hearts of some of our most ardent critics. We believe this car carries the gene pool for what the Mercedes-Benz brand will stand for in the future.
Aimed directly at a target market identified as Post Modern and Progressive Modern Mainstream, the product we are about to reveal confirms our commitment to the fast growing segment of premium compact cars.
Let me quickly show you a short video…
Run GERMAN video insert ….
To get an idea of what South African Post Modern and Progressive Modern Mainstreamists felt at first sight of this car, we showed a group of confident, trendy and opinionated youth this video. This is what they had to say…
Run SOUTH AFRICAN video insert ….
This car will open the Mercedes-Benz brand to a new, much younger audience. This group, considered to be the pulse of a new generation, is characterised as being strong, confident, sincere and authentic people who mix with like-minded peers. We know that they are attracted to brands which have a strong personality and attitude. We also know that they develop very emotional relationships with their vehicles. In order of preference they want design, brand image, reliability and performance.
The vehicle I am about to introduce combines all of the above, and heralds our departure from ‘what was’ to an aggressive visual and technological entry into the future of sustainable youthful mobility. It incorporates virtually every new age technology and promises to seamlessly fit into every owner’s digital lifestyle. And finally, although it comes with tremendous style and attitude, it retains Mercedes-Benz pedigree for unquestionable quality and safety.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please give the A-Class Concept a typically warm South African Welcome!