In spite of the heavy earthquake in March and its serious consequences for the country, sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles have developed favorably in Japan. Since the beginning of the year, sales have risen by 2.7 percent to 25,858 units, even though the overall market has strongly declined (-21.6%).

After sales had fallen by almost 25 percent in March, Mercedes-Benz already registered a slight sales increase in April. The following months, with sales growing at double-digit rates, enabled the brand with the star to climb back up to the previous year’s level in July. In October, Mercedes-Benz sold 18.8 percent more vehicles than in the same month last year (+1,707 units), allowing it to successfully defend its market position: Mercedes-Benz accounts for 37 percent of the vehicles sold in Japan by Germany’s premium car manufacturers. Sales of the smart fortwo have also increased substantially in Japan. Since the beginning of the year, deliveries of the two-seater have risen by 29.0 percent compared to the same period of 2010 (+1,042 units). Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars: “We are very pleased to see Japan back on its feet. I am confident that the Japanese automotive market will further strengthen and that our growth rate will accelerate, too.”

Nine of Mercedes-Benz’ most recent car models celebrated their Japan premieres today at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show. Until December 11, the Stuttgart-based premium car manufacturer will display 23 vehicles of its Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, and smart brands at the international car and commercial vehicle show in Tokyo. These vehicles include the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class and M-Class as well as the SLS AMG Roadster and the new smart fortwo electric drive. All those vehicles will be launched in the Japanese market in 2012. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz’ Concept A-Class is providing a preview of the new A-Class, which will become available in Japan in 2013. With the F 125! research vehicle the brand is looking even further into the future. The luxury class sedan is equipped with a fuel cell plug-in hybrid with a range of 1,000 kilometers. The smart brand shows futuristic design and technologies that enhance energy efficiency, lightweight construction, and temperature management with its smart forvision concept car. Traditionally, the Tokyo Motor Show focuses more on innovative future technologies in automotive engineering than other international auto shows.

Dr. Schmidt: “At the Tokyo Motor Show we are presenting an overview of our product and technology offensive. All these new cars contribute to our growth strategy and underscore our ambition to lead in the premium segment.” As part of its “Mercedes-Benz 2020” growth strategy, the brand will expand its product portfolio with ten new models until 2015. In the future there will be five Mercedes models in the compact segment alone. By 2020 the company plans to be the leading manufacturer in the premium segment. Therefore, Mercedes-Benz also aims to grow on the Japanese market.

Japan is currently one of Mercedes-Benz’ top ten sales markets. Since January, Mercedes-Benz has posted its strongest sales growths in Japan within the C-Class segment (10,260 units, +29.7%). The C-Class estate has achieved year to date record sales of 3,456 units (+43.3%).The C-Class’ great popularity in the country is also demonstrated by the fact that it was voted among the top ten contenders for the Car of the Year 2011 award. Moreover, with the C-Class sedan Mercedes-Benz is the market leader among the importers in its segment. The new generation of the SLK, which was introduced this year, is also very well received by customers. In the luxury car segment, the S-Class sedan is leading the import manufacturers. In the J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) for 2011, Mercedes-Benz was the top-ranking import brand in Japan.

Especially with regard to alternative power train systems, the Japanese market plays an important role. The demand for electric vehicles, for example, is rapidly increasing. That is why Daimler’s smart brand has been operating a test fleet of ten second generation smart electric drive in Japan since last year. The smart electric drive is currently being tested in 18 markets worldwide. From the very start, the two-seater was also designed for electric operation. The first generation of the vehicle was tested in London back in 2007. The third generation of the car will be launched in the market next year. It is the first series-produced electric vehicle from Europe and will be available in more than 30 countries. Dr. Annette Winkler, head of smart: “Response to the third generation smart fortwo electric drive has been overwhelming so far. I am really proud to present it here in Tokyo, one of the megacities the smart has been developed for. As electric mobility has a high status in Japan, we are very happy to offer our Japanese customers the innovative electric smart fortwo starting 2012.” More than 26,000 smart brand vehicles have been sold in Japan since the car was introduced into the market eleven years ago.

The wholly owned Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Japan Co., Ltd. is responsible for importing, selling, and marketing products of Mercedes-Benz Cars in the Japanese market. The company maintains a comprehensive sales and service network in Japan, encompassing 73 dealers with 204 sales outlets as well as 227 service workshops. Since 1993, Mercedes-Benz has been operating one of its five Advanced Design Centers near Yokohama. Besides Mercedes-Benz Japan Co., Ltd., Daimler AG is also represented in Japan by its subsidiaries Daimler Financial Services Japan Co., Ltd. and Mercedes-Benz Finance Co., Ltd. In addition, Daimler owns almost 90 percent of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), one of Asia’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturers. MFTBC is an integral part of the Daimler Trucks division of Daimler AG. All in all, Daimler employs around 13,000 men and women in Japan.

Source: Daimler AG