Mercedes has long been making efforts to become the largest premium car maker, and it seems it will achieve this goal four years earlier than previously expected. Ironically, this feat has been achieved since the company shifted its focus from gaining a larger market share to making stylish high-tech cars loved by consumers, reports Fortune.
Glory after 11 long years
On Sunday, Daimler informed investors that it sold 2.08 million Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in 2016. It is expected that BMW will not be able to beat this lead despite the fact that it has held the premium sales crown since 2005. The company said it sold 2.23 million passenger cars last year, including sales of the Smart brand.
“With new cars with pioneering design that inspire our customers and with particularly strong growth, above all in China and Europe, we have climbed to the top of the premium segment,” said the head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Dieter Zetsche, in a press release.
For the past six years consecutively, sales have been on the rise for Mercedes-Benz, and for the first time in 11 years, it is set to overtake BMW in sales, becoming the world’s number one luxury brand. Audi is the third strong contender in the list of top global luxury car sales.
Both BMW and Audi made record sales in 2016, but Mercedes’ climb of 11.3% had been a lot more dramatic.
What pushed Mercedes ahead?
Mercedes has gone through a complete revival as a brand, with its move of introducing elegant and sporty cars and by establishing itself as a pioneer in new technologies like autonomous driving. Owing to all this, analysts believe that the automaker based in Stuttgart will always be ahead of the pack.
Zetsche went through a lot of struggle to revive the company after things between him and the mass-market brand Chrysler didn’t go well in 2007. About four years ago, the CEO was facing restless shareholders who were concerned that the automaker was unable to compete with rivals such as BMW and Volkswagen AG’s Audi Brand.
Zetsche said in an interview with Reuters in late 2016, “We had some deficits, cost and quality problems. Design was not top-notch. And with Chrysler we were no longer a pure premium carmaker.”
In 2011, at its 125th anniversary, Zetsche set the goal of making Mercedes the best-selling luxury automaker by 2020. In the same year, Mercedes was pushed to third place as sales of even Audi overtook it, notes Fortune.