Luxury market leader Mercedes-Benz Australia says it doesn’t really care if it breaks into the top-10-selling brands in the country or not.
The German premium powerhouse is easily Australia’s most purchased premium brand, and when you factor in its commercial vehicle arm, it’s also right up there with the market’s top-volume brands full-stop. In fact, it ranks 11th overall.
Not that Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific CEO Horst von Sanden will admit to being overly fazed by climbing up a rung. To be top ten, he asserts, is really just about bragging rights.
“What can you buy from number 10 or top 10? Nothing. That’s what it is… [bragging rights]”, he told us this week. “We are quite happy where we are.”
As he should be. To the end of May, the company has sold 12,144 luxury cars and SUVs, and adding in sales from its van range, this number climbs to 14,228 — behind tenth-placed Honda with 15,291. This represents growth of 18.9 per cent, more than seven-times the market average.
Mercedes is actually ranked an amazing sixth for passenger car sales alone this year, with its 9924 sales placing it ahead of Ford (8646) and Honda (8165), among many others. About 35.0 per cent of these sales are of its ‘MFA’ small-car family — the A-Class, B-Class, CLA and GLA.
Its glaring weak spot remains SUVs. With 2220 SUV sales — from the GLA, M-Class, GL-Class and G-Wagen — it total this year is barely half of Audi and BMW’s totals. This is largely because it has no answer to the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, with the outgoing GLK never made in right-hand-drive.
That will change in quarter-four of this year though, when the new C-Class-based GLC arrives, to capitalise on the SUV boom, and pick up any slack from C-Class sales, should they decline at all from their current record highs.
There’s also M-Class-replacing GLE and the BMW X6-rivalling GLE Coupe arriving around the same time, giving the company a better answer to the dominant BMW X5 that leads its segment, as well as the imminent all-new Audi Q7 and the strong-selling Range Rover Sport.
It all means that Mercedes-Benz is better placed to keep surging up the sales charts. We asked von Sanden if a luxury brand risked losing its lustre if it became too popular. Is it true that premium car buyers, like hipsters, only like things if they’re rare?
“I think we’ve long gone past that, we just need to make sure that every car we launch is in line with our brand proposition, and then today I think we’re a luxury volume brand. You can’t operate with scarcity anymore,” he said.