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Passenger car sales going up [22-06-2011]  
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Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Sdn Bhd is optimistic it can sell more passenger cars this year compared with last year based on sales registered and orders it had secured so far.

For the five-month period ended May, passenger car sales rose 13% to 2,208 units from 1,959 units in the previous corresponding period last year, said president and chief executive officer Roland Folger.

“We have a waiting list of three to six months, depending on the model. This gives us an impression of demand for the year,” he told StarBiz.

Mercedes-Benz was the best selling passenger car marque in the German luxury segment. Folger's numbers differ slightly from what the Malaysian Automobile Association recorded in terms of car registrations from January to May, at 2,210 units.

Interestingly, Volkswagen was the next best seller among the German makes, with sales of 2,057 units, followed by 2,028 for BMW.

Folger was appointed Mercedes-Benz Malaysia's president and CEO on March 1. He replaced Peter Honegg, who was reassigned managing director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India.

“For 2011, our target is to sell more cars than we did last year,” Folger said, adding that demand for luxury passenger cars was strong.

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia registered a 28.2% growth in its passenger car sales to 5,003 units in 2010, a record high for the company.

Its commercial vehicles grew 22% with 1,967 vehicles sold last year, while its Mitsubishi FUSO trucks outdid 2009 sales of 1,391 units by 29% to record 1,795 units in 2010.

Due to the supply disruption as a result of the the earthquake that hit Japan in March, Folger expected sales of its FUSO trucks to match those achieved in 2009.

For the five-month period ended May, sales of Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles grew 21.9% to 78 units from 64 units previously, while FUSO trucks surged 42.6% to 810 units from 568 units in the previous corresponding period.

“For the FUSO trucks, the challenge will be in getting the supply. To surpass (last year's sales) will be a challenge and we'll be more than happy if we can maintain last year's sales in 2011,” said Folger.

Folger also revealed that the company would be launching three vehicles this year but he declined to name the models.

He did not think customers looking to buy Japanese luxury cars would defect to European makes just because of a shortage of units due to production disruption in Japan.

“I don't think people will chose European makes over Japanese but there aren't that many Japanese cars in the luxury market anyway.

“We also do not see a high level of defection of our customers going for Japanese models. I believe people will make a conscious decision on which brand to go for,” he said.

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