In the first half of 2017, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia retained its leadership position as the leading premium brand in Malaysia.
It delivered 5,913 vehicles.
It also saw record sales in June, driven by strong demand for the locally produced Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
With the recent launch of the new Mercedes-Benz GLC 200, and the upcoming E 350 e plug-in hybrid, the strong sales momentum for the three-pointed star is set to continue.
We had a recent chat with Raine recently, on the heels of the launch of the new GLC 200 and the Hungry For Adventure campaign.
The new GLC 200; what are the attributes that buyers would like, besides its more accessible price compared with the GLC 250 4Matic?RAINE: The new GLC 200 - we have been extremely successful with the GLC 250 but it is positioned in a very sporty/agile manner. Whereas the GLC 200 taps into a different market - it is positioned as more exclusive - focuses a bit more on the traditional values of Mercedes-Benz. It has a comfort suspension, a 15mm higher ground clearance, which adds a bit more SUV feel to it, an EXCLUSIVE LINE package for the interior, and a Exterior Chrome Package - all that gives a lot of value. I am actually targeting a different breed of buyer - the traditional Mercedes-Benz buyer who is not entirely satisfied with an 4 door limousine like the C or E class because the concept does not suit him or her. Maybe someone who plays golf who needs more boot space, or who has an active lifestyle - biking - or an affluent family with two kids - you need just a bit more space in your car.
About the Hungry For Adventure campaign, it's what the customer see in their lifestyle, and what they want to pursue. And also, their expectations in terms of their car. If you enjoy that lifestyle, then the GLC 200 is the perfect companion for you. It is attractively priced and with Mercedes-Benz Financial, you can finance the new GLC 200 at RM2,888 per month. The monthly instalments are calculated based on 3 years tenure under Agility Financing, 20,000km mileage per annum with a downpayment of 20.34%.
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia did very well in first half 2017; do you think this momentum will continue for the rest of the year, and can the brand equal or surpass 2016's record sales of 11,779 units?RAINE: Looking at my retails, the preliminary sales results for August are looking very good. We have started deliveries of the GLC 200. Our success is often based on supply, for many of our models - we still have an over demand. There is a long waiting list on many models. I think our sales momentum will continue because we have highly exciting things happening for us. The GLC 200, the E Class CKD (completely knock-down) which we launched in quarter two. The E 350 e plug-in hybrid will come in quarter three. I always say I want organic product driven driven growth. If you look at our product portfolio - we have 4 segments - the compact cars, the limousines, the SUVs (sport utility vehicles) and the dream cars. This year, in all these 4 segments, we launched new products. We launched the next-generation GLA (compact cars), the E Class CKD, the GLC 200, and lastly, we launched the E Class coupe which adds that extra bit of spark.
The E Class coupe has really surprised me - we sold all our stock, and now we are waiting for new arrivals. There is also great interest in customising and personalising the E coupe. In the last two or three years, we found a certain approach to the premium car market - we adapt our strategy
constantly - our approach remains the same. We provide superior after-sales service, we try to provide the best product, an overall premium experience for customers - it doesn't matter whether it's after-sales, sales or financial services. Our strategy caters to the whole customer journey - from the first phase of interest to the after-buying experience. I think that has led to our success.
You have launched five new dealerships this year; are there any more new dealerships' launches in the pipeline?RAINE: Definitely. It's very important we look after our after-sales capacity. We are expanding our network and we have also upgraded the existing ones. Petaling Jaya, Sungai Petani, Batu Pahat, on the East Coast - upgraded to higher standards - incorporating all the key aspects of the Mercedes-Benz Presentation System II (MPS II), the extensive guide to showroom design. In Malacca, we are building a new Mercedes Benz Autohaus there.
In the first half, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia also achieved the highest Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) After Sales score in history. What were the factors that led to this achievement? RAINE: For me, it is about the qualitative assessment. Where are we good, where we can get even better. Getting customer feedback, critically reflecting on your performance and looking at where you can improve is the most important exercise. The greatest danger to our success is that we grow complacent as an organisation. We are constantly reviewing evey aspect of our business - customer experience, internal processes, product portfolio. For instance, - in looking at the future of automotive retail - the customer buying experience - we are using digital signages in the showrooms, and also virtual reality (VR) - where you can test drive the vehicle while sitting in the showroom by wearing VR glasses. We have two such showrooms in Malaysia so far.