Mercedes-Benz must grow faster than rivals BMW and Audi to meet its goal of becoming the world's No. 1 premium automaker by 2020. Mercedes is counting on Ola Kaellenius, the 44-year-old former CEO of its high-performance AMG subbrand, to lead it back to the top after slipping to No. 2 behind BMW in 2005 and to third behind Audi in 2011.
Kaellenius, who started as sales and marketing boss at Mercedes and sister brand Smart last October, expects the automaker to set new global sales records in 2014 and 2015. He is bullish because his portfolio includes all-new models such as the CLA and GLA as well as new generations of strong sellers such as the S class and C class. The Swedish national is particularly confident about the new C class, which goes on sale in Europe this spring and in its largest market, the United States, late this year.
Kaellenius shared his views on Mercedes' future in separate interviews with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc and Matthias Krust, a reporter at ANE sister publication Automobilwoche.
Do you agree with forecasts that Europe's sales will grow again this year?
The market as a whole saw green shoots in the second half of 2013 so maybe we have crossed the bottom part of that valley. We are cautiously optimistic but it would be fair to say that we expect moderate growth.
The C class and GLA launch in Germany next month. Are you confident that Mercedes' European sales will grow this year?
If we talk about overall share, we started gaining vis-à-vis the whole market in 2013. I think there's a pretty good chance that we will gain share again in 2014. We've got momentum.