Published on December 15, 2007
Huppenbauer told reporters that the market could reach 8,000 units next year, depending on the economic and political situation.
"It will depend, after the general elections, on what kind of policies will come from the new government, especially in terms of mega-projects which would play a major role in supporting investment in the country," he said at a press briefing yesterday.
This year the luxury-car market is expected to come in at less than 7,000 units, he said.
"We'll have to see who gets to become the new government and whether the new government has enough stability. After the first quarter of next year we'll see whether the market will become active once again. We will be able to see things more clearly then," he added.
In the first 11 months of the year, Mercedes-Benz sold 3,700 vehicles: 600 A-Class, 900 C-Class, 1,700 E-Class, 500 S-Class and other models.
Huppenbauer said Mercedes-Benz planned to grab a 50-per-cent market share in the luxury segment. This may not be an easy achievement, but is possible thanks to introduction of new models such as the C-Class. The C- Class was recently introduced in CBU (completely built-up) form and 80 units were sold during the past two months.
"We plan to start offering the CKD [completely knocked-down] version in January but we still cannot disclose prices. One thing for sure is that it will be able to stimulate the market," Huppenbauer said, adding that Mercedes-Benz needs to adopt a wait-and-see attitude before deciding to offer the diesel version of the C-Class in Thailand.
Huppenbauer said that in 2008, the company was preparing to organise more activities to support sales and increase the level of direct communications with customers. However, details cannot yet be disclosed.
He said Mercedes-Benz was also closely working with its leasing arm, Mercedes-Benz Leasing, in coming out with new sales campaigns to make it easier for customers to own its cars.
"The campaigns will be more flexible and suitable for customer requirements," he said.
Mercedes-Benz has no plans to increase the number of dealers, he added.
"But we do have plans to strengthen our present dealers so that they can better serve the requirements of customers whether in terms of showroom standards, tools and equipment, parts inventory and mechanic skills."
Mercedes-Benz has 36 dealerships: 18 in Bangkok and 18 upcountry.
The company also recently invested more than Bt600 million in strengthening its operations in Thailand by signing a 10-year contract with Bangchan General Assembly Plant to build a "One Roof Centre", which will bring a number of currently separate facilities, operations and depots onto one 27-rai site in Rattanabodee Estate.
"The One Roof Centre brings together functions from our engineering and manufacturing operations and combines them with sales and servicing. Immediate benefits will flow to our dealers and from them to our customers," said Huppenbauer.