DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz looks poised to add fuel to China's imported luxury car market with its decision to build 40 maintenance service centers in China by the end of 2005, the year before the country says it will slash its auto tariff to 25 percent from the current rate of 80 to 100 percent.
In addition to the 23 Mercedes-Benz centres that already exist in China, two more will be established in the near future in Chengdu and Chongquing, two important cities in China's western hinterland, according to Karlheinz Michel, president of Mercedes-Benz China Ltd.
The company launched the Guangzhou Star Mercedes-Benz Showroom last week, the first of its kind in this gateway city in South China's Guangdong Province.
Last week, the company also launched its latest model of C-Class Sports Coupe in China.
"The showroom is a benchmark for our customer service and our continuing commitment to China,'' he said, adding that the showroom is an important point of contact where customers can obtain the latest product information, examine in detail the cars on display and discuss his or her specific requirements with a sales expert.
With a market capacity of 65,000 in China, Mercedes-Benz is one of the three foreign giants that now dominate the imported luxury car market. The other two are BMW and Volvo.
With service increasingly becoming the key aspect of competition between the three, Mercedes-Benz has begun imposing internationalized and standardized management over its maintenance stations all over China.
Overt contention and covert struggle among the imported luxury car makers, which began to spark last year, have becoming increasingly evident this year.
On April 10, the Honda Accord 3.0 officially rolled off the line, and on April 18, Volvo's S60 luxury sedan drove onto the Chinese market.
While entering into the final examination and approval stages on its Chinese joint venture project, BMW has decided to increase the number of its sales and service agents in China from 20 to 35.
Volvo has 12 maintenance networks in China with about 20 sales outlets. It is said the company will intensify efforts to construct more sales outlets in western China this year.
(China Daily 06/19/2001)