Mercedes-Benz eyes top spot in luxury fleet, used-car businesses

Auto & Audio May 02, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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After emerging as the only luxury automaker to witness dramatic sales growth during the first quarter of this year, Mercedes-Benz is planning to accelerate into leadership position in the luxury fleet and used-car businesses as well.

During the first three months of this year Mercedes-Benz sold 2,205 cars, with more than 1,000 being delivered in March. This included a large number of small, fuel-efficient models such as the A-Class and CLA with starting prices below Bt2 million. 
“The company is building awareness among target groups through online channels and marketing activities along with the active development of sales channels and people to develop fleet and used-car professional staff at 31 authorised dealers nationwide,” said Grisnagorn Sawettanan, general manager of sales at Mercedes-Benz Thailand. 
He said the company had also taken into account new consumer trends unveiled by a research study on the future of the automotive business that suggested a shift towards fleet cars, a piece of information supported by growing sales through fleet channels that accounted for more than half of premium car sales in Western Europe last year. 
“In the first quarter of this year, Mercedes-Benz Thailand saw sales growth of 25 per cent year-on-year to 2,205 vehicles as a result of our diversified offerings, especially with many new additions to our NGCC [New Generation Compact Car] family, including the A-, B-, CLA- and GLA-Class,” he added. 
Mercedes-Benz Thailand has gone on the offensive in the fleet and used-car businesses, Grisnagorn declared. 
“The industry is seeing an uptrend of consumers shifting towards fleet and used cars because these businesses enable accurate budgeting of running costs. Last year, up to 50 per cent of premium cars sold in Western Europe were counted in the channel of fleet cars, which hints at ample growth opportunities for fleet and used-car businesses and coincides with foresight that prompted Mercedes-Benz Thailand to begin our fleet and used-car businesses 13 years ago. 
“Our fleet business is named ‘Mercedes-Benz Corporate Solutions’. We target large corporations, hotels and with emphasis this year on SME business owners and car rental companies, using a strategic focus on tailoring solutions and packages for the specific needs of each customer,” he explained. 
“Mercedes-Benz’s fleet business has grown nearly 100 per cent compared to the previous year,” he revealed. “As for our used-car business, branded ‘ProvenExclusivity’, we boast integrated services including buy-in, trade-in and sales of pre-owned Mercedes-Benz vehicles that have undergone Mercedes-Benz’s used-car high-standard evaluation to ensure selection of only quality used cars. In addition to this convenience, customers can also have peace of mind with regard to the transfer of car ownership that is transparent and completely accountable.” 
According to Grisnagorn, Mercedes plans to expand its customer base to first-time Mercedes-Benz users to offer them the “true experience” of Mercedes-Benz at convenient prices. 
“Our marketing strategies for these two businesses from the second to the fourth quarters this year will put increased emphasis on digital marketing. This includes our websites and official Facebook page that will communicate directly with our target groups. Another priority is development of our sales staff and channels. Through education and training, we will equip them with the capability to impart well-versed advice to interested customers based on their specific needs. Special emphasis will also be given to providing a Mercedes-Benz driving experience. The number of demo cars will be increased with full coverage for all our marketed models. They will be stationed at our authorised dealers nationwide,” he said. 
“As for marketing activities, we plan to integrate communications of these two businesses in all activities of Mercedes-Benz Thailand to heighten awareness of them among our target groups. Rewarding activities and after-sales services are also well planned to build a good relationship with our customers and maximise their satisfaction,” he added.