Locally-made Mercedes-Benz sedans were put on the Chinese government's purchasing list on Friday, giving an extra boost to the German luxury brand's fast-growing China sales.
Beijing-Benz DaimlerChrysler Automotive Co Ltd, a joint venture assembling the Mercedes-Benz E280 sedan in Beijing, said in a statement that the move will break the monopoly of another German luxury car brand Audi in the fleet of high-ranking Chinese government officials.
The move will provide the joint venture a "sustainable and stable" growth, it said.
BMW, the other German luxury car brand made in China, has not been put on the governmental procurement list.
The government purchasing sector is a hot battleground where domestic and foreign automakers have been competing fiercely. Last year, governments at all levels in China spent 70 billion yuan on vehicles, according to industry data.
Mercedes-Benz's China sales, including those in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, surged by 52 percent year-on-year to 4,800 units in the first two months of 2007, Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd said on Friday.
The strong performance in China overtook Japan as the brand's biggest market in Asia-Pacific, the company said.
Meanwhile, sales of its S-Class sedans in China more than doubled to 2,230 units, keeping the nation No 2 in the world S-Class market.
Locally-made E-Class sedans also contributed to Mercedes-Benz sales in China during the period, the company said, without providing figures.
"This year, Mercedes-Benz China will continue to introduce new products to meet the growing demands from the Chinese market. Meanwhile, we will further strengthen our services to maintain a high standard of customer satisfaction," said Klaus Maier, president of Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd.
Mercedes-Benz China sales still lag behind Audi and BMW due to its recent entry into local production.
Last year, Mercedes-Benz sales in China jumped by 32 percent to 21,200 vehicles, much lower than Audi's 80,808 units and BMW's more than 40,000 units.
However, Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Mercedes Car Group, said last November that the company aimed to surpass BMW in China sales within two years but needed a longer period of time to beat Audi.
Mercedes-Benz started to produce cars in Beijing in January 2006. BMW kicked off China production in 2004. Audi began assembling cars in China in the early 1990s.
Source: China Daily