Daimler to introduce more cars in China to boost sales-executive

FRANKFURT Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:00am EST

FRANKFURT Dec 11 (Reuters) - Daimler will introduce 20 more models in China in the next two years, aiming to boost sales of its luxury Mercedes-Benz brand in the world's largest car market to 300,000 cars by 2015 without resorting to large discounts, a senior manager said.

This, combined with the expansion of its dealership network, should help lift sales and repair the German carmaker's image, which suffered when dealers in China offered discounts of up to 18 percent on new cars, Hubertus Troska, Daimler's head of greater China operations, told journalists on Wednesday in remarks embargoed for Thursday.

"We will not repeat this mistake again," Troska said, adding that some products, such as the S-Class limousine, were even selling above list price.

As part of a turnaround strategy, Daimler overhauled its sales and dealership operations in China in March, merging its sales activities for imported and locally made Mercedes-Benz cars into a joint-venture company.

After launching seven new or face-lifted cars this year, Daimler will introduce its C-Class sedan at the end of 2014, followed by compact offroader GLA, in moves that should help boost deliveries.

"Sales should take off in 2015", Troska said.

While China has become Mercedes-Benz's No. 3 market globally after Germany and the United States, the luxury brand trails rivals BMW and Audi (part of Volkswagen ) in terms of sales.

In China, Mercedes-Benz sold 195,000 cars between January and November, lagging Audi's 444,000 deliveries and BMW's sales of 354,000 vehicles in the same period. (Reporting by Illona Wissenbach; Writing by Edward Taylor; Editing by David Holmes)