Published on June 23rd, 2022 | by Subhash Nair0
Interview With Michael Jopp, Mercedes-Benz Cars Head Of Sales & Marketing
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s Michael Jopp answers dsf.my questions on EVs and charging.
Micheal Jopp took the reigns of Mercedes-Benz Cars for Malaysia and parts of South East Asia in mid 2019. In the Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) hierarchy, Mr. Jopp has the responsibility of overseeing luxury passenger cars bearing the 3-pointed star. He enters just as efforts to push battery electric vehicles (BEVs) start to ramp up in the region and he bears the responsibility of making sure things go smoothly during this transition. We sat down for an interview with him to talk about the various electrification challenges faced locally by Mercedes-Benz.
One of the primary challenges of mass BEV adoption is preparing the infrastructure to make these cars usable as daily drivers. This means helping to expand the availability of DC Fast Chargers in the country.
“As you may have heard, 13 dealerships so far are being equipped with DC Fast Chargers. So far, 2 are already finished. By the end of 2022, 12 of these will be done with the last one scheduled to be installed and ready by early 2023. The network will be quite extensive, stretching as far as Kuantan. As to why it will take such a long period of time for the rollout, it’s because of the supply chain issues. Not only do they affect the availability of vehicles, but the supply of DC Fast Chargers too has been somewhat hampered.”
Lately, we’ve been hearing more and more about existing DC Fast Chargers being walled off for certain car brands only. We asked Micheal Jopp if Mercedes-Benz Malaysia would be following the same exclusivity strategy?
“For now, it’s still open for discussion. Ultimately, it will be up to the dealers to decide who can charge at their DC Fast Chargers as these are being built by them on their lots, even if support is coming from us.”
The EV scene has started to explode in Malaysia. This is due to recent government policy that excludes BEVs from import duties and excise duties until the end of 2023. How is Mercedes-Benz Malaysia dealing with grey market/parallel importers who are bringing in electric Mercedes-Benz vehicles?
“Personally we don’t see grey market dealers are a legitimate threat to our BEV strategy. MBM has a very aggressive EV strategy that involves a major pricing advantage and our production of BEVs will ramp up very fast and very soon. But for those who do end up purchasing a Mercedes-Benz BEV from a grey market dealer, we will honour the 2-year global manufacturer warranty should problems arise. Buying from MBM directly will entitle customers to a 4-year manufacturer warranty and this is also part of our strategy for attracting EV customers.”
Just about every car brand selling BEVs has a plan in place to start selling cars online, by-passing the traditional showroom model to a certain extent. Will this be the case for MBM?
“For now, no. As you can see, our dealer partners are still investing big in dealerships. This is because there is still a big growth potential in Malaysia and with a growth in sales there is a big need for aftersales to follow. Plus, even though we are integrating online and offline, most of the transactions are still happening in showrooms. Big showrooms like these [Hap Seng Star Setia Alam Mercedes-Benz Autohaus] will continue to be important for customers who want to touch and feel the cars before making a purchase. That being said, we’re working on further integration of online and offline elements.”
With electric vehicles, aftersales is quite different from ICE vehicles. Should the worst happen to an EV sold by MBM, how many dealerships are prepared?
“All are ready. Every authorised dealership has been certified to carry out major repairs our BEVs, including in the worst case, a complete battery failure which would require a battery pack change.”