Mercedes-Benz clinch Japan imported cars market

German luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz is closing in on a third consecutive successful year of record sales in Japan, where overall passenger car sales have been weaker than the previous year. The president made the comment as the company celebrated a special occasion — inspection of the 1 millionth Mercedes imported into Japan.

The popularity of the mainstay Mercedes-Benz C-Class, whose all-new model hit the market in July 2014, the Japanese unit of the German automaker achieved sales of about 60,800 units in 2014, breaking through the 60,000 barrier for the first time amid raise of Toyota new cars sales. Sales continue to be strong this year, with the January-October figure coming in at roughly 10% higher than the same period a year earlier, making Ueno’s goal a high possibility.

Mercedes was selling more than 50,000 units a year in Japan around the turn of the century, as the information technology bubble minted new customers. But the number dropped after the bubble burst. The annual sales figure sank as low as 29,000 units in 2009, the year after the Lehman shock when the market was taken by Japanese automaker Giant Toyota.

Mercedes-Benz Japan has managed to turn things around by targeting younger generations with sales promotions while also keeping the older faithfuls. The introduction of Abenomics and the ensuing Japanese stock market rally also helped the company achieve record sales in 2013, then again in 2014. This year, Mercedes is expected to unseat Volkswagen as Japan’s top-selling imported car brand.

Strong demand for Mercedes cars has boosted earnings at Yanase, a major car importer and dealer. With more luxury cars being sold, the company’s group sales for the year ended September are estimated to have risen 7%. Operating profit likely jumped 18% to around 13.7 billion yen ($110 million). These figures are the highest since 2008. In the fall of that year, the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a global financial crisis.

Mercedes is not the only luxurious car brand that has been doing well in Japan. Italy’s Automobili Lamborghini in the January-October period sailed by its annual sales record, set in 2013, by 60%. Germany’s Porsche is on track to set a sales record this year to beat Japanese new car manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz Launched Diesel Cars in Japan

Mercedes-Benz will continue to promote diesel cars in Japan despite the negative impression that Volkswagen AG has cast on the fuel technology with its emissions-cheating scandal.

Mercedes is targeting to double the proportion of diesel-powered cars it sells in Japan to 10 percent this year, Kintaro Ueno, head of Mercedes-Benz in Japan, told reporters in Tokyo. He said despite being personally “shocked” by the Volkswagen revelations, Mercedes will push for diesel because of its merits, such as power and fuel efficiency.

Volkswagen’s cheating scandal raises concerns over the damage on German car brands, with Daimler AG and BMW AG also producing diesel models for sale in markets including Japan. Daimler said last week that it supports the development of new testing procedures and that it has never used “defeat devices” in its cars.

Mercedes introduced the diesel versions of its best-selling C-Class sedan and wagon in Japan Monday. Sales begin next month, bringing the number of diesel models it sells in the country to 10 where they faced tough challenge from Japanese car makers producing high specs automobiles.

Japanese regulators have begun an inquiry into whether Volkswagen’s vehicles sold in the country comply with emissions standards, adding to investigations of the automaker after it admitted to rigging 11 million cars with software that obfuscates how much they pollute. Volkswagen will reconsider plans to introduce diesel models in Japan following the scandal.

Mercedes-Benz Announced 2017 Model SL-Class

The German Auto-Maker Mercedes-Benz displayed their V-Class model at the Tokyo Motor Show, the luxury car maker has now announced that the vehicle will be rolled out in Japan starting January next year. Mercedes’ designers also resculpt the hood and fit a front bumper with an additional opening between the grille and lower air dam.

But now, ahead of its debut at the LA Show, we get a full gallery of images, photos that have arrived on the web a little earlier than Mercedes planned. Engine line-up of the new Mercedes SL Class is still not disclosed. The luxury seven-seat SUV, which is expected on United Kingdom roads in March 2016, is effectively a facelift of the existing GL, the S added to both align it to Mercedes’ new three-letter naming structure and to relate it to the renowned S-Class saloon.

Standard equipment is plentiful, with an eight-inch infotainment screen, adaptive AIRMATIC air suspension, LED headlights, leather upholstery, memory front seats, a Harmon surround sound system, panoramic electric sunroof, a 360-degree camera, keyless go and three-zone climate control just a few of the highlights of the AMG Line kit list, which will enhance the safety of vehicle much better than other car manufacturing companies in the world.

Mercedes is in the process of providing the S-Class with a facelift though from the first images that has appeared online to compete Japanese new car manufacturers, there seems to be nothing much for the taking so far as the exterior is concerned. Under the skin, engine options are likely to be carried over from the current auto, with a choice of a six-cylinder SL 400 and eight-cylinder SL 500, as well as performance-oriented AMG SL 63 and SL 65 variants. The sportier AMG version of SL Class also gets quad AMG exhausts.

Mercedes Benz has enough potential to trails other auto makers

Whatever Mercedes does, BMW and Audi seem to be doing better. Mercedes-Benz, owned by Daimler AG, was the biggest luxury automaker in the world until 2005, but currently trails BMW and Volkswagen’s Audi. The automaker signaled its intent to regain the title of the world’s largest automaker but BMW and Audi have only extended their lead this year.

Take November, for instance. Its global sales rose 5.7% to 120,346 units helped by strong North American sales. However, they were again overshadowed by BMW and Audi whose sales stood at 145,452  and 123,600 vehicles respectively.

Its American sales grew 13 percent to 30,315 units in November helped by the E-class sedan but were beat by BMW’s 31,213 vehicles. Mercedes-Benz has so far been the leading luxury automaker in the U.S. in 2012 but BMW has been breathing down its neck and inching ever closer. The former leads the latter by just 1849 vehicles now and their respective positions could reverse in the last month of the year.

Even in China where you expect the non-Japanese automakers to benefit from the recent anti-Japanese backlash, Mercedes’ sales tumbled 6.6% to 16,876 units. BMW and Audi, on the other hand, posted sales growths of 62% and 25.9% respectively.

One of the reasons why BMW and Audi continue to outsell Mercedes is because the automaker has one of the oldest portfolios. While new models have accounted for 90%  and 115% of the incremental sales for BMW and Audi respectively in the last three years, they only accounted for 15% of Mercedes’s incremental sales. And therefore the automaker has stepped up its spending on R&D significantly with the total expense expected to be around $14 billion for 2012 and 2013 combined.

Its new A-class, launched in September, is already doing very well with the model’s bookings having already exceeded 90,000 units. Mercedes does not reveal the sales of A-class separately each month but the combined sales of A-class and B-class surged 38% in November. Furthermore, the new model is yet to be launched in several key markets such as China and India. So, the next year could be huge for the model as it will reveal the true selling potential of the vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz will also be looking to bolster its American sales in 2013 as the automaker looks to roll out the new CLA 2014 during the next year’s Superbowl ad campaign. The four-door CLA, slotted below the C-class, will be company’s entry-level model in the United States. It will be priced around $30,000. The next generation C-Class should arrive in 2014 as well.

In total, Mercedes will launch 10 new vehicles by 2015 which will widen its portfolio to include a greater variety of compacts, coupés and SUVs.  Even though it looks like Mercedes will not be overtaking BMW or even Audi any time soon, there is still an opportunity for upside as the new models could potentially help accelerate the sales growth.

Margins could also benefit as the additional top-line helps spread out the fixed costs over a bigger base. Moreover, a greater proportion of the automaker’s vehicles will be manufactured in its Hungarian plant, the low-cost hub, so we could see a rise in the margins.