The Korea Herald


S. Korea 'important' for Mercedes-Benz, serves as test bed: exec

By KH디지털2

Published : May 26, 2015 - 15:44

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South Korea is a very "important" market for Mercedes-Benz and also serves as a test bed full of "educated" and "demanding" customers, a senior company official said Tuesday.

Ola Kallenius, who is a member of the board of management of Daimler AG and responsible for Mercedes-Benz's marketing and sales, said that it will broaden its product portfolio available to customers in Korea, a move aimed at propping up its growth.

"The Korean market is very important to Mercedes-Benz. It is one of our top 10 markets around the world," the official said during a press conference held in Ilsan, north of Seoul.

"One thing I think that signifies this market is that we have very educated and demanding customers. They are technology-oriented. So if you are successful in Korea, you can be successful in other parts of the world," he added.

He said Korea played a "big" part in the company's global growth last year, adding that the upward trend continues this year.

"Last year was a phenomenal year for Mercedes-Benz with a worldwide double-digit growth ... Korea plays a very big part in this growth, an almost incredible 46.8 percent growth last year," he said.

"It continues on the same successful passion as last year, (with) a 14 percent growth worldwide during the first four months of 2015 and again Korea is outperforming ... coming off to a strong

2015 with almost unbelievable growth from that basis of another 35 percent in the first four months of this year," Kallenius added.

He attributed the success in Korea to its "incredible product performance" and a wide range of options that consumers can choose from, adding that the company plans to introduce more cars available for them later this year.

"Mercedes believes that the large portfolio that appeals to a broader range of customers is the one of the foundations for our growth in the years to come," he said. "We have a very full pipeline of new products and six of those will be launched in the market this year."

He said that Mercedes-Benz will increase its lineup in South Korea from the current 17 models to around 20 by 2020 and raise the number to the upper end of 30 in the future.

Asked how to tackle the "old" perception attached to its vehicles, he said that the company is stepping up efforts to appeal to younger people with new and sporty designs and a "fun" driving experience.

"It is very important for us to open up the brand for young people. With the new styling we introduced a couple years ago, especially with the compacts, we look at those parts worldwide ... It's new, fashion, sporty and it's fun to drive. We are changing and making the old Mercedes brand younger, he noted.

For possible business tie-ups with Korean partners down the road, he said that Korea is on "our radar screen" for cooperation.

Earlier, Mercedes Benz agreed to cooperate with LG Electronics Co., a South Korean tech company, to develop core parts, including cameras, to be used in its vehicles.

"There is a very strong supply network in Korea. Not just in Korea but some of the best Korean suppliers are expanding their activities in Europe and other places around the world. Korea is very much on our radar screen in terms of looking for technology partners," Kallenius said.

"It is a high tech country, part of thriving technological development. Mercedes Benz will continue to cooperate with all other Korean companies here in the future." (Yonhap)