Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) has been on record breaking achieving figures for the past three years. In 2016, the brand launched 17 model and variants and sold 11,779 vehicles or a nine per cent improvement over 2015’s record year. But that didn’t stop the brand. This year’s third quarter performance marked a total of 8,771 vehicles sold with 19 new models and variants launched in 2017. This brings the brand’s current vehicle line-up locally to over 50 variants in the Malaysian portfolio.
As we end 2017, we speak to Mark Raine, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Passenger Cars at Mercedes-Benz Malaysia on their vehicle line-up, PHEV’s and outlook for 2018.
MBM ended 2016 with another record year with 17 models launched, sold almost 12,000 vehicles and followed on this year with 19 models. How do you decide which models to focus on and continue to grow the current line-up in the MBM portfolio?
MR: We look at the market carefully and analyse where the future trends might be. We make cars available in Malaysia through market requirements based on customers who would like to purchase vehicles in specific segments. For instance, it is a decision at this moment that we’re not offering station wagons because we see that market covered in our SUV range which in concept are similar. For our Dream Car range, we want to offer the biggest variety of dream cars – coupe’s, cabriolets, roadsters and performance AMG’s. For me this is important because we are the premium market leader and need to have that variety for the high-end customers to choose from. This is also part of our commitment to being a luxury brand and offer that choice.
Do you feel that with a vast portfolio of cars, there is a risk of one product outshining another?
MR: For us, we want to sell as many cars as possible of the Mercedes-Benz brand, and for me the goal is to make customers happy. The first step to making customers happy is by offering the right product. If we’ve provided the customer with the choice and allow them to decide that they’ve the right vehicle, the customer will be happy and we’ve done a good job. Of course there is also the buying, aftersales and service experience.
Since your introductions of the C350e and E350e, what are your thoughts about the adoption of PHEV’s and the local recharging infrastructure?
MR: With our C350e, we were one of the first to launch a plug-in hybrid in Malaysia. We started off with the S400 Hybrid, a conventional hybrid that was followed up 10 months later with the E300 BlueTec Diesel Hybrid and now are in our third wave of Plug-in hybrids. PHEVs are fairly new to the market but the infrastructure is starting to be established. The government has a very concrete plan together with Greentech Malaysia in terms of rolling out the charging infrastructure. Our dealers are equipped with fast charging wallboxes which the customers can opt to purchase one for their house. It is still in progress and developing in the right direction, and I’m happy with that.
The brand’s current line-up of cars are growing popular amongst the younger generation thanks to the strong presence it commands. Other than just the product, how does Mercedes-Benz Malaysia continue to keep existing and attract younger clientele over from your competitors?
MR: For me it’s not a tradeoff, it’s complementary. We’ve dissected our product portfolio into four groups – compact cars, limousines, SUV’s and Dream Cars. When we do an event that engages with the compact car customers, it is different than with the launch of an E-Class. The former mentioned, like the Urban Hunting event is very targeted and edgy, aimed at the younger generation, while the E-Class is more subdued, conservative and according to our customers needs and desires.
We also have successful platforms like our Mercedes Trophy Golf Series. That targets a more traditional customer. But we are also adding new platforms like the Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience that is across the range, targeting Dream and Performance cars.
On a lighter note, what has been the best advice you’ve ever received from your mentors?
MR: I’ve been encouraged to think independently, to be critical, but at the same time, have an approach of integrity, knowing what is right and having that internal compass of doing the right thing for the right reasons and yet not stop to be daring.
One individual mentor in the company has supported me over the past years in terms of progressing my career has had a huge portion of my success. I think it’s always healthy to have trusted individuals like my family, wife and father who has given me guidance, provided me feedback and reflected together with me. The ability to reflect on your personal behaviours, performance and knowing what’s good and needed to improve is also a crucial ability.
Which is your favourite Mercedes-Benz vehicle of all time? Why?
MR: I have not a favourite car, it’s a few. I’m a huge fan of the CLS and was driving the CLS shooting brake before coming to Malaysia. I think it’s the perfect symbiosis between a traditional E-Class limousine and a coupe. I love the design and progressiveness of that car. I also like the S-Class Coupe, GLC Coupe and the GTS as well.
What are your plans for 2018 in Malaysia?
MR: The past three years have been exciting, with 2015 being hugely successful, 2016 was a firework of new products and the segment of our premium SUV range, and 2017 with the eight AMG’s alone are mindblowing. But I’m most excited about 2018 cause we’re gonna have new and revised products in all of our four product groups. We’ve got hugely exciting things happening with the brand and I’m very excited and optimistic.
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