by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
MERCEDES-BENZ Malaysia Sdn Bhd is cautiously optimistic on the outlook of the automotive market for the next six months amid a gradual recovery from Covid-19 impacts.
Sales and marketing VP Michael Jopp said it is still too early to judge how the market would rebound after the relaxation of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Nevertheless, he said the company will be pushing to maximise sales, particularly through greater digital touchpoints.
“Globally, we see some markets have registered fast recovery in the automotive sector, including Mercedes, and some of them may exceed last year’s volume for the same period even after going through lockdowns.
“From that perspective, we are cautiously optimistic about having good sales, but it is difficult to make any prediction at this point. We are also cautiously planning for the second half of the year (2H20),” Jopp said in a virtual media roundtable on Covid-19 recovery measures and market outlook yesterday.
He said Mercedes does not focus on any particular vehicle segment to drive the volume for recovery, but banking on a balanced portfolio including compact cars, sedans and SUVs to contribute to sales.
President and CEO Dr Claus Weidner (picture) said the recovery for Mercedes overall hinges on the country’s economic development in the remainder of the year.
That, he said would largely depend on the effects of the stimulus package introduced by the government earlier.
Weidner said Mercedes will keep its strategy to provide the best customer experience and focus on value to attract car buyers despite the unprecedented challenging times.
“Positive sentiment is coming back to the market in stages — until the third and fourth quarters of the year — as people go active and explore new things again, and that would drive businesses to return to a certain level of normalcy,” he said in the virtual roundtable.
In April, the local automotive market saw vehicle sales plunged to almost 100% year-on-year to only 141 units — 131 passenger vehicles and 10 commercial vehicles — compared to 49,935 units recorded in the same month last year, according to Malaysian Automotive Association data.
The association said sales volume in May would be much higher than April, but very much lower than traditional monthly registrations before the MCO.
Mercedes has resumed its retail, after-sales and production in Pekan, Pahang, after the implementation of the Conditional MCO in mid-May.
The German premium marque will be introducing new digital approaches in the business, including virtual showrooms and test drive experience.
The country’s top premium carmaker launched three new range of Mercedes-AMG compact cars for the local market comprising two hatchbacks, Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC and A 45 S 4MATIC+, and a CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ coupé.
Mercedes said the demand for compact models has been increasing in recent years and the latest models are targeted to reach the youngest AMG clientele.
Mercedes delivered 10,020 cars last year, capturing a 1.8% market share in the local automotive market.
While Mercedes led the pack in the premium car segment, the volume difference between the brand and its archrival BMW AG shrank from 1,071 units in 2018 to 720 last year.