RECORD SALES AND PRAISE FROM GERMAN BOSS FOR LUXURY BRAND
Mercedes-Benz New Zealand’s history-making success in 2015 has not only impressed local bosses but also management in Germany.
For the first time in its history in New Zealand, Mercedes was the top selling luxury brand, with 2095 new car sales for 2015.
Mercedes cracked 2000 new car sales, the first time since the Motor Industry Association recorded registrations in 1985.
It also looks like to be record-breaking year for the brand’s AMG sports range of vehicle.
The success of the European marque has even made an impact in Germany with Mercedes-Benz board member responsible for marketing and sales, Ola Källenius, sending a congratulatory email to New Zealand.
For Mercedes-Benz New Zealand’s managing director, Ben Giffin, being the number one luxury brand here has been his aim since he was appointed to the role four years ago from Australia.
“(Mercedes-Benz NZ) has made no secret of the fact that we’ve wanted to be the number one brand in New Zealand for a number of years, and we had a growth strategy put in place and we played to that strategy for the whole of 2015,” Giffin told Driven.
“We are extremely strong in the Christchurch and the South Island all together and we’ve been number one (premium brand) for a number of years.
“However in the past couple of years we’ve really gathered some momentum in the North Island, that’s across everyone of our markets – from Wellington to Hawke’s Bay to Hamilton and particularly in Auckland.”
The C-Class sedan was the popular model for the brand with a milestone 500 sales for New Zealand but it was the all-new compact SUV, the GLC, which made a last minute impact to the company’s final figure for 2015.
Mercedes finished with 223 sales in December with GLC taking a chunk of those sales.
“It was so pleasing because we didn’t think we’d have too much to retail after GLC launch but our customer orders for December was the best (month) of the entire year,” said Giffin.
“The strong finish to the year came down to the SUV range. We’ve got more SUVs in the luxury segment than any other manufacturer.
“Not a lot of people realize the breadth of the SUV range Mercedes-Benz has on offer, from the GLA to the iconic G-wagon and everything in between.”
Mercedes had 12 launches last year and this year will see 10 new or facelift products arrive in New Zealand, with the GLS large SUV set to make an impact for the brand.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC
“It arrives in quarter two and … we can build on as it is a true seven-seater and you can have two adults in the rear seats so it’s a multi-function vehicle,” said Giffin.
By the middle of the year, the all-new E-Class will arrive in New Zealand with the sedan making its world debut at this week’s Detroit motor show.
So what is Giffin’s aim for 2016?
“Ultimately we want to concentrate on our brand profile in New Zealand. We want our Customer Satisfaction Index to be the best in 2016 (as it was in 2015),” he said.
“It’s the most important thing for us because as we sell more cars we’re obviously talking to new customers and being the most desired luxury brand is ultimately what we’re aiming for.”
And what is the expectations from Germany, in particular Källenius who sent the email to Giffin?
“But there’s no reason why we can’t (remain number one). We have award-winning cars, we have a huge product portfolio, and customer satisfaction is right up there.”
The brand has also seen a change in customers with more than 60 per cent of customers in 2015 new to Mercedes-Benz.
“It’s because of the value proposition we offer now,” said Giffin.
“It’s the opportunity to own a brand new Mercedes-Benz A180 (hatchback) for sub-$50,000 with three-year warranty, three-year service plan, and roadside assistance. We’re really offering the consumers so much choice now.”
With an increase in customers to the brand also comes emphasis on maintaining them to the brand plus post-purchase service.
“Everyone of our cars come with three year service plan … but outside of those three years we want to make sure our customers have suitable service centres in convenient locations,” said Giffin.
“Ultimately we’ve looked at our service network, looked at our dealer network and the convenient thing for us going into 2016 is that the Customer Satisfaction Index is the best every all from record. So not only are we selling more cars, we’re pleasing more customers.”
Giffin said Mercedes-Benz NZ’s head office has also highlighted customer service with its dealerships.
“It’s something driven from us but our dealers understand it. Without good customer service we don’t get to sell our customers a second vehicle,” he said.