The debut today of the new GLK at Auto China in Beijing represents a double milestone in Mercedes-Benz history. The Stuttgart premium auto maker’s compact SUV is also the first Mercedes to celebrate its world premiere in China. “It’s a testimony to this important and fast-growing market that we are presenting our most significant new model of 2008 in China,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “After last year’s success, which saw Mercedes-Benz China achieve a volume increase of 53 percent, the new GLK will inject additional momentum here and in other markets,” continued Zetsche.
At Auto China, the first public appearance of the GLK – which is equally at home both on and off-road – was very much in keeping with its character. The driving dynamics of the compact all-rounder is symbolized by the athletic performance of free running protagonist Sebastian Foucan and his team. Foucan is the founder of the cult sporting discipline and gained global recognition with his spectacular stunts in the latest James Bond movie (Casino Royale).
Famous the world over for her movie success, actress Zhang Ziyi is a superstar of the Chinese movie scene and guest of honour at the GLK world premiere. Her big international break came with her role in Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. “I love this powerful, great looking all-rounder,” said Zhang Ziyi about the new GLKin conversation with Dr. Dieter Zetsche. “It has an unmistakable character – a perfect partner that takes me wherever I want to go in safety and comfort and, especially in the city, cuts a stunning figure.” The actress recently demonstrated her appreciation of Mercedes-Benz in the Chinese advertising campaign for the updated SLK roadster. Zhang Ziyi was particularly complementary of the new GLK. “The new GLK is not only a perfect partner for everyday transport; it is also an extremely attractive co-star.”
The new GLK – the right vehicle at the right time
As a compact model, the new GLK expands the number of distinct variants in the successful Mercedes-Benz SUV range to five, and offers customers a new entry point into the world of Mercedes-Benz all-wheel drive. “The GLK is the right vehicle at the right time. It boasts a highly individual design and combines the strengths of our large models within a compact vehicle format, which also offers fuel consumption benefits,” said Daimler Head of Development Dr. Thomas Weber. “With this intelligent ‘rightsizing’, Mercedes-Benz is making a further contribution to CO2 reduction within the SUV segment – in parallel to its BlueTEC initiative.”
Road to success – Mercedes-Benz on the Chinese market
With 26,900 deliveries – marking an increase of 53 percent over last year – Mercedes-Benz succeeded in substantially expanding its passenger vehicle volume on the Chinese market in 2007 (2006 – 17,600). In the first three months of this year, volume grew by 43 percent to 8,600 units. The locally-manufactured E-Class, which has been built in China since the end of 2006, has made a significant contribution to this growth. March saw the new C-Class also enter local production, while Mercedes-Benz Transporters will be produced in Fuzhou starting 2009.
Further evidence of success – Mercedes-Benz customers are China’s most satisfied new vehicle buyers. The findings of the latest J.D. Power survey put the brand with the three-pointed star in first place, and well ahead of the pack. Last year was the first time Mercedes-Benz was included in these ratings, and from the word go it has set the benchmark for the entire sector in China.
The best-selling luxury saloon in China is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which is also the world number one in its class. March 2008 saw over 1,400 S-Class models delivered in China – more than double the figure for the same month last year. China is now the world’s second largest market for the S-Class. With the S 350 4MATIC, Mercedes-Benz is introducing a further variant of its successful flagship in China. Other new Mercedes models arriving on the Chinese market are the newly updated M-Class and the CL 600, which are presented in Beijing alongside the GLK and the S 350 4MATIC.
In 2009, smart will be the third brand from Mercedes-Benz Cars in China
“Come 2009, smart will be the third brand from Mercedes-Benz Cars on the Chinese market, alongside Mercedes-Benz and Maybach,” announced Dr. Zetsche at Auto China. The smart fortwo – the original micro compact car – combines driving fun, environmental sustainability and safety with a distinctive lifestyle character, making it a huge success in Europe, selected Asian markets and – since the beginning of the year – in the U.S., too. “Now we are also bringing the contemporary two-seater to China, where we believe it has equally high chances for success, due to the rapid expansion of the micro and compact car market,” commented Zetsche. Against this backdrop, smart is appearing for the first time with its own show stand at Auto China 2008. Market introduction is scheduled for mid-2009.
Visitors to the show can now form their own opinion of the smart fortwo and of the world of smart in general on the smart stand. The focal point is a smart fortwo cabriolet featuring an exterior design inspired by the “bird nest” architecture of the National Stadium in Beijing.