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Published on January 30th, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez



For generations, the quintessential Mercedes-Benz has been at the apex of automotive technology and styling and the three-pointed star which co-founder Gottlieb Daimler prophesied ‘will shine down on his work’ continues to evoke passion among motoring enthusiasts, exciting them with its luxury, performance and enduring versatility, undiminished with the passage of time. From the first car produced 126 years ago, Mercedes-Benz has indelibly stamped its credentials as the benchmark for quality while trailblazing the many firsts in automotive technology with a long list from the first diesel production car, safety passenger cell, crumple zone, seat belts, ABS to airbags. 
Today, Mercedes-Benz continues to shape the future of mobility, focusing on innovation and green technologies while creating safe and superior automobiles which appeal to and fascinate the enthusiasts of the brand.
In Malaysia, Mercedes-Benz celebrates the 10th anniversary of the company’s incorporation this year. MBM commemorates many firsts, from being the number one purveyor of premium luxury cars of the decade; assembling the first V8 powered car in the country; introduction of its iconic and award winning Autohauses, to the promotion of haute couture, to being the first few companies to adopt the integrity pledge.
Since the incorporation of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) in 2003, the company, a joint venture between Daimler AG of Germany and Cycle & Carriage Bintang has delivered 40,649 passenger cars to date up from 3008 to embellish its credentials of being the first among premium luxury marques. During the decade, MBM, who also manages the import, assembly and distribution of Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles and the Mitsubishi Fuso range of commercial vehicles grew sales from a small base of 298 units to 2276 units

To date a total of RM480 million has been invested to assemble, distribute, market and service Mercedes-Benz in Malaysia.
President and CEO Roland S Folger said while there were many firsts to mark and celebrate the accomplishments of  Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, the focus is on the future to mark the second decade.
“We will invest another RM280 million till 2016 to meet and exceed the expectations of a legion of Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts.
“Mercedes-Benz will continue to evolve to attract new customer segments without diluting the key values of the brand’s proposition.
“Our portfolio of vehicles will be broadened and deepened and we are excited to unveil a new range of Mercedes-Benz cars from compacts, executive, premium luxury, SUV to the super sports models,” he added.
In the commercial vehicle segment, the heavy duty rigid and premium articulated Mercedes-Benz Actros together with Mercedes-Benz Vito and Sprinter complete the line up in the Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle segment. Like their brethren in the passenger vehicle segment, the trucks and vans offer equally impressive performance and are equipped with the brawn for the tough applications and eco friendly combustion systems.

Mitsubishi Fuso trucks have also experienced progressive and significant growth over decade with leading edge introductions including the Mitsubishi Fuso Canter FG4X4, the first CKD four wheel drive commercial truck to be introduced in Malaysia, which registered strong uptake of 219 units in 10 month since its debut in February 2012.
Of the RM280 million in investments over the next three years, RM80 million will be spent to upgrade the Pekan plant to facilitate the production of the new C, E and S-Class models while the remainder is for the expansion and upgrading of the dealer network.

Since 2003, the Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Production Plant has produced over 41,700 vehicles and in 2008, became the first in Malaysia to assemble a V8 engined car, Mercedes-Benz’s flagship S500L. The plant assembles the world’s most desirable passenger cars namely the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, E-Class and C-Class as well as  Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles and Mitsubishi FUSO. Mercedes-Benz is currently the only premium automotive segment manufacturer mastering the entire completely knock down production process in Malaysia including in-house body and spray painting.  The plant complies with Mercedes-Benz’s International Standards to ensure that the quality of the locally built up models are on par with those produced in Germany or any other Mercedes-Benz production plant worldwide.
Folger said while Mercedes-Benz Malaysia will continue to roll out its leading-edge technology vehicles, efforts to enhance customer focus, after sales service and technical expertise will be ramped up and executed through various programs.   
Currently, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has the largest dealer and service network among premium luxury automotive players and together with its dealer network has invested RM230 million to set up 27 establishments  strategically located across the country, up from 18 in 2003.

 “We were the first to introduce the iconic autohaus concept in 2003. We have received numerous FIABCI Awards for the design and functionality of our autohauses, for example Cycle and Carriage Bintang Petaling Jaya was the recipient of the FIABCI award Industrial Development category for its state-of-the-art showroom in 2006, and in 2008 Hap Seng Star Kuala Lumpur received the FIABCI Specialised Project Award and Hap Seng Star Kinrara won the FIABCI Industrial Development Award respectively.
“Over the next three years, over RM 200 million will be invested to refurbish existing dealerships and also roll-out the Mercedes-Benz Presentation Systems II (MPS II).
“The MPS II aims to deliver a consistent imagery of Mercedes-Benz dealerships worldwide while reflecting the quality of the products and services offered at the dealerships in meeting the high brand expectations of Mercedes-Benz owners.
“This brand concept gives us the opportunity to advance the brand image at the point-of-sale, to get customers even more excited about our brand. We will continue to build strong equity and affinity with our customer and our efforts are not limited to just the hardware,” he added.
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is also working closely with its dealer network to refine and improve customer satisfaction.  Beginning this year MBM has launched “My Commitment, My Service”, an initiative to enhance service culture and instill pride among employees both internally and within the dealer network in appreciating and serving customers. Engagement conferences and benchmarking surveys will monitor progress and maintain the momentum of the program
Apprenticeship training at Mercedes-Benz will be continuously upgraded to ensure that there is a sufficient pool of skilled technicians to service the needs of the growing population and new generation of three-pointed star cars.
In Malaysia, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia took over the operations of the Apprentice Training Centre in 2003 and revamped the curriculum and length of training from a two-year basic automotive training program and a 10-month Electric/Electronic Automotive Training (EAT) top up module with a three-year diploma in Automotive Mechatronic Training (AMT).
Since 2003, seven batches of 160 trainees have graduated from the AMT program and are deployed throughout Mercedes-Benz Malaysia dealer network. Investment in the training centre and on the trainees exceed RM 16 million. Trainees typically receive a RM90,000 scholarship to undergo the three-year program and those who successfully complete their training are guaranteed jobs at the dealerships.
According to Folger, MBM had also invested in various training programs such as cross-functional team building, skills development and job grading exercises to engage employees and develop internal promotion opportunities in line with the company’s Employer of Choice initiative. “We have targeted 2014 to reach to achieve this status,” he added.
In the area of compliance, MBM was the first in the automotive industry in 2011 to adopt the integrity pledge with the Malaysian Institute of Integrity to promote ethical and business practices.
“We are transparent and above board in all our dealings and will not condone any unethical or corrupt practices. We are not averse to losing a sale or order if it means compromising our corporate philosophy and we implement our pledge of integrity uniformly within our organization and with our business partners.” Folger added.
Besides leading the introduction of premium luxury vehicles, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is also in the forefront of lifestyle marketing and in particular its leadership of haute couture sharing the brand’s experience in fashion in 30 countries globally including the acclaimed Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin and in New York.
“Elegance and styling have always played a major role in the success of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Through the Mercedes-Benz STYLO Fashion Grand Prix held annually since 2008 we have helped elevate the Malaysian fashion industry internationally.
“For the first time, all three winners of the 2012 Emerging Designer Category, Established Designer Category and Model of the Year were given the opportunity to showcase their creative works on the runway of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Mexico,” he added.
Folger said MBM was also closely involved with the KL Performing Arts Centre to promote and develop the standard and quality of the performing arts in Malaysia. On the sports front, MBM is also actively involved in golf through its Mercedes Trophy which has been growing from strength to strength.
“Together with select community projects we hope to to contribute towards the well being of the less fortunate members of society,” he added

Commenting on the outlook in next decade, Folger expressed confidence of Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-Benz Malaysia continuing to excite its customers and potential customers.
“From passenger cars to commercial vehicles, we have a strong line up to offer a diverse range of variants to meet and keep up with the demands of the respective sectors.
“We have the technology, cars, and trucks of the future which run on alternative fuels, cleaner, more eco friendly and efficient without compromising styling, design, and performance as  we aim for the best or nothing, always,” enthused Folger.

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