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Sales slump puts service in fast lane

(Global Times)

08:31, March 13, 2013

German automaker Mercedes-Benz announced earlier this month that it had lowered its prices on spare parts and maintenance in China by 20 percent on February 1. The move came soon after FAW-Volkswagen announced that it would expand its executive positions in after-sales service as this area becomes a more important part of its operations in China.

Many automakers, especially foreign brands in the up-market segment, are changing their tack in China now to focus on customer care and vehicle servicing as the market for sales decelerates.

Indeed, sales of German, Japanese, American cars were all down dramatically last year compared to sales in 2010 and 2011.

Much of this slowdown is a product of over-saturation and excessive competition, two problems which are here to stay.

In order to keep profits running high, most carmakers have had little choice but to expand their maintenance departments to serve the vehicles they already have on the roads.

The author is Zhang Zhiyong, a commentator.

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