Luxury features in smaller package
By Kim Tae-jong
The head of Mercedes-Benz Korea said last week that the new B-class conveys the core tastes of the German automaker in a compact form in introducing the model here for the first time.
“The new B-Class is the ideal car for anyone who looks for all the characteristics of a true Mercedes-Benz, but in a compact form,” Thomas Urbach, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Korea, said during a launch event at the Seoul Trade Exhibition Center in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul last Thursday.
Planning to introduce other new models for this year, he expressed his confidence that Mercedes-Benz will satisfy Korean drivers.
They have already introduced new models including the new SLK in January and the new B-Class, and it will launch the new M-Class and the new SL 63 AMG in the coming months.
“I am confident to say that due to the success of last year, as sales quadrupled over five years. I feel that there is no need for a drastic change,” he said.
He said the automaker’s success in the Korean market is due to its “expanding model lineup,” which aims to address various customers’ different needs and expectations.
“Korean automotive customers are well experienced and sophisticated. Korean customers have high expectations towards quality, safety, brand image, and the customer care and service, all the values that Mercedes-Benz stand for,” he said.
But he also emphasized the importance of customer services, arguing that sales volume is not all that counts.
“In 2011, Mercedes-Benz was no.1 in Customer Satisfaction Index conducted by a local automotive research firm among premium import brands. We didn’t sell the most cars in the import segment in 2011, but we had the customers with the highest satisfaction and this is what really counts,” he said.
The German carmaker has a market share of 18.6 percent as of the end of last year. It sold a total of 18,534 vehicles in 2011, grabbing the second-highest market share as an import car after BMW.
Urbach, who was appointed last February as the new president and CEO of its Korea office, said the importance of the market to the German automaker was getting bigger, adding Mercedes-Benz Korea was within the top 15 largest markets and it top five for both E-Class and S-Class segment.
He also noted that FTAs will bring benefits to Korean drivers, which will increase the sales of Mercedes-Benz here.
“With the current FTA, we are expecting positive development in bringing our brand closer to Korean customers. Mercedes-Benz Korea passed on the full benefits of these reductions to Korean customers, by lowering its prices,” he said.