Brian Joss – Mercedes-Benz closed off 2019 as the top-selling premium car brand in South Africa, despite challenging market and economic conditions that saw an overall decline in premium vehicle sales due to pressure on consumers’ disposable income and fragile business and consumer confidence.
Also worldwide, Mercedes-Benz finished the year as number one among the luxury car brands and achieved its ninth consecutive record year of sales.
2019 saw the Stuttgart-based brand grow sales by 1.3% to more than 2.3 million units, with strong growth in all three of its main markets – China, Germany and the USA.
Johannes Fritz, Co-CEO of Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Executive Director for Mercedes-Benz Cars, said that the Mercedes-Benz Best Customer Experience strategy, which aims to create an ‘innovative retail experience’ for its customers as part of an unwavering focus on customer care, was an important differentiator for the brand in a highly-competitive market. In February 2019, the carmaker unveiled its new ‘Retail of the Future’ store at its Sandton flagship dealership. In addition, a firework of new models, particularly in the compact car and SUV segments, contributed to the success of Mercedes Benz. New launches in 2019 included the A-Class Sedan, B-Class, CLA, CLS, GLE, GLC and GLC Coupe. Mercedes-AMG performance models, the C63s, CLS53, E53 (Coupe, Cabriolet and Sedan), and the GT 4-Door, were also launched in 2019.
“The next years will also be characterised more than ever by the transformation of our industry, but we intend to maintain our market leadership and set the course for long-term competitiveness with investments in new technologies and customer-centricity,” concluded Fritz.
Mercedes-Benz backed up its sales performance with a string of awards, including the coveted SA Car of The Year award for the new A-Class Hatch.
The brand maintained its position in 2019 as the ‘Coolest Motor Vehicle’ as awarded by the Sunday Times Gen Next, and earned yet another ‘Top Brand’ accolade from Sunday Times. Mercedes-Benz is also comfortably ahead of its competitors in the Customer Service Index (CSI) in the local luxury segment, conducted by Lightstone Consumer.
Mercedes-Benz Global has also laid out a clear roadmap for CO2-neutral mobility with its “Ambition 2039”, which sets itself the goal of achieving a CO2-neutral fleet of new passenger cars within a period of 20 years. For Europe, the company assumes that well over 40 percent of Mercedes-Benz vehicles could already be delivered to customers as xEVs (plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles) by 2025. And by 2030, the company aims to achieve more than half of worldwide car sales with plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles.
Fritz said he was optimistic about the brand’s prospects in South Africa for 2020. “This year, the market will see again an attractive product offering from us, including the new Mercedes-Benz GLA, GLB, GLE Coupe, GLS, GLS Maybach, G400d, the E-Class family and the fully electric EQC. Performance models from Mercedes-AMG will again feature strongly in 2020 with the introduction of the A35 range, the A45s, GLC 43 (SUV and Coupe), GLE 53 and GLE 63 (both in SUV and Coupe), as well as a very highly anticipated Mercedes-AMG Black Series model. These products will redefine luxury and performance motoring and chart new avenues for sustainable mobility in South Africa.”
CAPTION: Tough market: the Mercedes AMG CLS53. Picture: Motorpress