Daimler names new board member for China to boost sales
FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Daimler today said that Hubertus Troska, a top executive in its Mercedes-Benz trucks unit, will take over a newly-created portfolio for China to boost the car maker's flagging business in the world's largest auto market.
Daimler has been struggling for some time to improve distribution networks in China, weighing on regional deliveries of Mercedes cars, which fell 6.6 percent in November to 16,876 units.
By contrast, German rivals BMW and Audi have long been posting double-digit gains in vehicle sales in the lucrative Chinese market, extending their global lead over Daimler.
"We are underscoring the strategic importance of China for Daimler," Daimler Chairman Manfred Bischoff said in a statement. "We continue to see great potential there for sustained growth and the continuous expansion of our business."
Troska's appointment is a "long needed change at the top" of Daimler, London-based Credit Suisse analyst David Arnold wrote in a note published today. "Daimler's China operations are one of the major disappointments for markets," he wrote.
Daimler's move reflects the heightening competition among Germany's top carmakers for greater business in the Asian nation. VW, the first overseas car maker to enter China three decades ago, appointed executive board member Jochem Heizmann in June to take charge of a special portfolio to oversee future expansion in China.
Troska, 52, will take over the new-created position to become Daimler's eighth board member starting Thursday, and will have responsibility for all of Daimler's strategic and operating activities in China.
Troska, a 24-year Daimler veteran, has previously served as a manager for the trucks division in Mexico and the United States and worked in Turkey for the Mercedes cars division. He was head of Mercedes' AMG high-performance unit from 2003 to March 2005. Since April 2005, Troska has been head of Mercedes' Europe and Latin America trucks unit.
Troska will have responsibility for all of Daimler's China operations.
Troska's new contract will run through until the end of 2015.
In other moves, Daimler extended the contract of Andreas Renschler, 54, the head of the manufacturer's trucks division by five years until September 30, 2018. Renschler, who has worked at the company since 1988, has been a Daimler board member and head of the truck division since 2004.
Ulrich Walker, 61, the current chief of Daimler Northeast Asia, will retire from the company after over 30 years at the company, six of them in China, Daimler said, adding that he will assist Troska in a transitional phase before leaving the company.
Through November, sales of the Mercedes brand in China fell by 4.2 percent to 177,301. Sales at Audi, the country's best-selling luxury brand, were up 30.7 percent to 370,559. BMW brand's volume rose 37 percent to 274,985.
Bloomberg and Automotive News Europe contributed to this reportContact Automotive News