Daimler will boost local production of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in China and continue its dealer network expansion as it targets sales growth of at least 10 percent this year, the company's China chief, Hubertus Troska, said.
"We will grow faster than the premium market,” Troska told reporters today in Beijing, German news agency dpa reported.
Mercedes sales in China grew by 29 percent to 281,588 last year. In December, Troska said that the brand may sell well over 300,000 cars in the market this year.
Overall, China’s market is seen as growing 8 percent this year.
Daimler also plans to open more dealerships in China to plug holes in the existing network, particularly in less-developed cities in the west of the country, Troska said today.
In the past few years, Daimler has expanded its dealer network rapidly by 100 new sites, and although this growth will now slow, it will be targeted at ensuring good market coverage, Troska said.
“This year, we will no longer be adding two new dealers a week. But, by the end of the year, we should have closed the last holes [in the network],” Troska was quoted as saying by dpa.
Sources told Reuters last month that Daimler paid roughly 1 billion yuan ($160 million) in subsidies to China-based Mercedes dealers after they failed to meet aggressive 2014 sales targets set by the company.
Audi and BMW have made similar payments to dealers which have experienced weaker sales growth as China's economy slows and the world's largest auto market matures.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche aims to overtake BMW and Audi to become the top-selling global luxury automaker but to reach the goal Mercedes needs to strengthen its position in the world’s biggest single auto market, where it has lagged its two rivals.
In a bid to outpace BMW and Audi in China, Mercedes plans to “substantially” increase local production, Zetsche, said last week following the release of company earnings.
Daimler has spent 112 million euros on its Beijing r&d center to ensure locally built models cater to customer demands in China.
Reuters contributed to this report