2012 was another record year for Mercedes-Benz Cars. Our figures for unit sales, revenue, and production volume were at all-time highs. At €4.4 billion, EBIT did not reach the high level of the prior year. We set standards in the compact-car segment with our sporty new A-Class. Additional new model highlights in 2012 were the new SL, the CLS Shooting Brake, and the new GL. The E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, which we have been offering to customers since June 2012, is the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in the world. In 2012, we expanded our Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy to include a new key component: Fit for Leadership.
|Amounts in millions of euros||% change|
|Return on sales (in %)||7.1||9.0||.|
|Investment in property, plant, and equipment||3,495||2,724||+28|
|Research and development expenditure||3,863||3,733||+3|
|Employees (December 31)||98,020||99,091||-1|
|Unit sales Mercedes-Benz Cars|
|In thousands||% change|
|thereof Western Europe||631||625||+1|
|thereof United States||300||250||+20|
New records set for sales and revenue. Mercedes-Benz Cars, comprising the brands Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and smart, continued to grow with sales of 1,451,600 vehicles in the year under review (2011: 1,381,400). (See table 4.01) Revenue increased by 7% to the new record
level of € 61.7 billion, although major markets weakened in the second half of the year. At €4.4 billion, EBIT was lower than the high figure recorded in the prior year. This development was primarily due to extensive investment in the expansion of our production capacities, high advance expenditure for new vehicles and technologies, and difficult overall economic conditions — particularly in the second half of the year.
Fit for Leadership. To ensure we are able to achieve our targets for growth and margins — even under less favorable conditions — we have expanded our Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy to include a new central component known as Fit for Leadership. This program combines
existing efficiency actions and supplements them with additional, newly derived elements. Our main short-term goal here is to implement measures that will safeguard our earnings. Of particular importance, however, is our long-term component for optimizing our development, production and sales structures. One example of this optimization is the restructuring of our business activities in China, where we merged our two existing sales companies into a single and much more efficient sales organization, thereby creating the right conditions for further growth. In total, we intend to achieve a sustainable improvement in our cost structures of approximately €2 billion as a result of “Fit for Leadership” by the end of 2014.
Mercedes-Benz remains on course for growth. We set a new record in 2012 with unit sales of 1,345,800 Mercedes-Benz brand passenger cars (2011: 1,279,100). This achievement also enabled us to improve our position in key markets around the world. (See table 4.02) The
S-Class sedans, the M-Class, the CLS, the SLK and the C-Class coupe are worldwide market leaders in their categories.
The launch of our new and attractive SUVs led to a 16% increase in unit sales in that segment to 295,400 vehicles. Particularly high sales increases were recorded for the M-Class (+34%) and the updated GLK (+14%). We remained very successful in the S-Class segment with unit sales of 80,700 vehicles, and we were able to increase our sales in the C-Class segment by 3% to 425,000 units. Sales in the E-Class segment declined to 313,600 vehicles (-8%) due to lifecycle-related factors. Despite the model changeover of the A-Class in September 2012, unit sales in the compact segment rose by 20% to 231,100 vehicles. This positive development was mainly due to high unit sales of the B-Class (+57% to 150,200 vehicles). The market launch of the new A-Class was extremely successful. In fact, more than 70,000 orders had already been received by the time the model went on sale in September 2012.
All in all, we managed to increase sales in many markets, despite facing difficult economic conditions. Mercedes-Benz successfully defended its position as the most successful premium brand in Germany with shipments of 261,100 vehicles last year (2011: 262,300). This positive sales momentum was generated primarily by the B-Class, the M-Class, the upgraded GLK and, from the fourth quarter on, the new A-Class. In addition, we succeeded in improving our position in nearly all markets in Western Europe excluding Germany. Total unit sales of 300,100 vehicles exceeded the prior-year level by nearly 5% despite weak markets in the countries of Southern Europe. Sales in the United States reached a new record level of 289,300 vehicles (+17%); this development was primarily a result of the success of our new SUVs. Retail sales were up also in China, increasing by 1% to a record of 196,200 vehicles. As of the third quarter, sales were stimulated by the launch of the new B-Class. In order to optimize the inventories of our Chinese sales partners, we simultaneously reduced unit sales, i.e. shipments to our dealer network, by 9%. In 2012, sales of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars developed especially dynamically in Japan (+37%), Russia (+27%), Mexico (+27%), Switzerland (+23%) and the United Kingdom (+20%).
The heartbeat of a new generation. The highlight of the Mercedes-Benz presentation at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2012 was the world premiere of the new A-Class. With this model, we ushered in a new era for the compact-car segment. The new A-Class is exceptionally emotive
in terms of design, dynamic thanks to new engines, and highly efficient with emission values starting at 92 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The model’s fuel consumption is up to 28% lower than that of its predecessor, despite a significant increase in engine performance. At the same time, the new A-Class underscores the fact that safety is not a question of cost at Mercedes-Benz. For example, the vehicle is offered with the radar-based COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST system as standard equipment. The model’s ability to seamlessly integrate iPhones® is also making the Mercedes-Benz brand particularly attractive to younger customers.
CLS Shooting Brake: A sports car with cargo space. With the all-new CLS Shooting Brake, which was first delivered to customers in October 2012, Mercedes-Benz offers yet another highlight in its lineup of innovative luxury vehicles. Although the model clearly has the proportions of a
coupe, its five doors and a roof that stretches to the rear of the vehicle also offer impressive new possibilities. As a sports car with five seats and a large rear hatch, the vehicle is a unique option for customers who desire both a sporty driving experience and plenty of room for cargo.
Additional new models in 2012. The completely redesigned SL celebrated its world premiere at the Detroit Auto Show at the beginning of the year. This automobile is made almost entirely of aluminum and weighs up to 140 kilograms less than its predecessor. Its new BlueDIRECT
engines are more powerful and up to 30% more fuel-efficient than the engines of the predecessor generation.
We also upgraded our range of SUVs in 2012 by launching new generations of the compact GLK and the G-Class as well as the new GL. With their new designs, more exclusive appointments, pioneering assistance systems, and powertrains that are both efficient and agile, all of these vehicles underscore the Mercedes-Benz claim to leadership in the SUV segment.
The E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, which we began offering to customers in June 2012, is the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in the world. The vehicle’s modular hybrid concept, which includes a lithium-ion battery, stands out thanks to its exceptional driving performance and fuel consumption of only 4.1 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers (107 g CO2/km). (See Innovation, Safety and the Environment)
The new highlights of 2012 also included two very environmentally friendly versions of the new B-Class: the Concept B-Class Electric Drive and the Mercedes-Benz B 200 Natural Gas Drive model. (See Innovation, Safety and the Environment)
In April 2012, Mercedes-Benz presented a four-door concept coupe with an avant-garde design at the Auto China show. The new CLA coupe, which was presented in January 2013 in Detroit, seamlessly integrates the design of the Concept Style Coupe into a series-production model.
Launch of the new smart fortwo electric drive. The new generation of the smart fortwo electric drive was launched in June 2012. The electric smart accelerates from 0 to 60 km/h in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 125 km/h. The vehicle’s powerful lithium-ion battery enables
it to travel 145 kilometers on a single charge. smart now also offers a new sales model that makes switching over to electric driving more appealing. With sale&care, customers can purchase, finance or lease the car at favorable terms and rent the battery for a monthly fee. Daimler has also been offering customers electricity from a new wind power facility — and thus from a completely renewable energy source — since the vehicle’s market launch. In this way, we are ensuring that new smart fortwo electric drive models purchased in Germany are fully CO2 neutral.
We also began offering the smart ebike to our customers in July 2012. With its unconventional design and a highly efficient and high-performance drive-system package, the smart ebike occupies an exceptional position on the market. The brand will also be expanding its urban electric mobility concept with the introduction of the smart scooter in 2014.
We sold a total of 105,700 smart fortwo cars in 2012, an increase of 6% compared with the prior year. The smart fortwo was particularly successful in the United States, Canada, Japan and China.
AMG — cutting-edge technology and a fascinating driving experience. Impressive results in motor sports and a unique array of high-performance vehicles continue to underscore AMG’s reputation as the successful performance brand from Mercedes-Benz. The brand motto
of “driving performance” has guaranteed the most sophisticated technology and a fascinating driving experience for 45 years now. As the first vehicle developed independently by Mercedes-AMG, the SLS AMG super sports car impressively highlights the expertise and passion that are hallmarks of the company’s headquarters in Affalterbach. The spectacular gullwing model was followed by the open-top SLS AMG Roadster, two GT versions of the super sports car and the customer sports racecar SLS AMG GT3.
In the autumn of 2012, AMG continued the almost legendary tradition of its Black Series with the introduction of the SLS AMG Black Series coupe. AMG will also launch its new SLS AMG Electric Drive coupe in 2013. Getting behind the wheel of this fascinating electric super sports car is the most exclusive and dynamic way of experiencing what it means to drive an electrically powered vehicle. AMG will enter the compact class as well in 2013 with the introduction of the A 45 AMG. Additional AMG high-performance compact cars are also almost ready for market launch.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive
Continuous expansion of production network. Due to strong demand, the production plants of Mercedes-Benz were very well utilized also in the year 2012. To ensure that we fulfilled all of our customers’ wishes, we implemented numerous special shifts and holidays were shortened. In
this way, it was possible to produce over 1.35 million Mercedes-Benz automobiles: more than ever before.
Important product launches such as the new A-Class and the SL were mastered in top quality. A special prize was awarded to the plants in Sindelfingen and East London: the renowned J.D. Power Silver Plant Quality Award. The most important milestone in the year 2012 was the opening of our new Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét, Hungary, which since then has been producing the new generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars together with the plant in Rastatt. A total of €800 million has been invested in the Kecskemét plant, which meanwhile employs more than 3,000 people. Production of the B-Class started there after the plant was opened, followed by the new four-door compact coupe CLA in January 2013. The production network for our new compact cars allows us to significantly enhance our flexibility.
In addition to the substantial investment in Germany, we are also expanding our international production facilities so that we can manufacture our products closer to our markets and customers, especially in the growth regions. In China for example, together with our partner BAIC, we are investing a total of approximately €2 billion over several years in the expansion of local car production in Beijing. Last September, we laid the foundation stone for a plant that will produce the new generation of compact cars. And good progress has been made with the development of a new plant for the production of four-cylinder gasoline engines, which will go into operation in 2013.
As well as the systematic expansion of the production network, the productivity of the existing facilities is also being improved continuously. In this way, we are creating the right conditions also in the area of production to allow us to achieve the targets set by our Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy.
Further reduction of CO2 emissions. Our new economical engines and extremely efficient model variants once again enabled us to substantially reduce the average CO2 emissions of the cars we sold in the European Union in 2012 — this time from 150 g/km to 140 g/km. We thus
once again achieved an above-average reduction in the CO2 emissions of our vehicle fleet, simultaneously undercutting the EU targets for this year. The new A- and B-Class models played a major role in this accomplishment. Our overall objective is to reduce the average CO2 emissions of our fleet of new cars in the European Union to 125 g/km by 2016. (See Assistance systems and Innovation, Safety and the Environment)
Intelligent drive. This concept stands for a new dimension of driving at Mercedes-Benz. In the future, intelligent assistance systems will analyze complex situations and utilize improved sensor technology in order to identify potential danger on the road even better than is possible today. With many new systems, the new S-Class will make driving even more comfortable and even safer. Some of these innovations will already be implemented in the new E-Class. (See Research and development, environmental protection and Innovation, Safety and the Environment)
Numerous awards for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. In 2012, a series of international design prizes such as the coveted “red dot award: product design” demonstrate that we were once again able to impress our customers with the forward-looking design and cultivated sportiness
that typifies the Mercedes-Benz brand.
In the ADAC AutomarxX study, Mercedes-Benz occupies the top position as Germany’s strongest automobile brand and the A-Class has been voted “Germany’s favorite car” in the ADAC prize Yellow Angel 2013. The brand’s A-, C-, and E-Class models all received top marks in their respective segments in the J.D. Power market research institute’s Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study for Germany. In addition, Mercedes-Benz was proclaimed to be the best automotive brand in Germany in the same study. The Ökotrend environmental institute named the S 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY and the ML 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC the most environmentally friendly vehicles in their respective classes, while readers of Auto Bild magazine voted the A-Class Germany’s most beautiful car in the Auto Bild Design Award competition. Mercedes-Benz also won the Quality Trophy 2012, which is presented by Auto Zeitung magazine and the Association for Technical Inspection (GTÜ) to the company providing the best quality and dependability. This coveted top-class award is based on three criteria: the results of some eight million general technical inspections conducted by GTÜ, findings from the quality and service report published by Auto Zeitung, and magazine readers’ responses that reflect their own personal experience.
Our service also received top marks in the year under review. The Mercedes-Benz company-owned and authorized sales and service outlets that were examined in the workshop tests carried out by auto motor und sport magazine were all designated as providing very good service quality. In addition, Mercedes-Benz workshops once again achieved the grade “very good” in tests conducted by Germany’s ADAC automobile association.
Focusing on younger customer groups. In 2012, we added new chapters to the success story of the Mercedes-Benz brand. For example, we enhanced the fascination and appeal of the Mercedes star with a comprehensive product and communication offensive whose activities centered on
the brand motto “The Best or Nothing.” New models such as the unique CLS Shooting Brake and in particular the progressively designed new A-Class enabled us to open up the Mercedes-Benz brand to new target groups. We also adopted new approaches to communication and marketing. In addition to existing Mercedes-Benz customers, who continue to enjoy the traditional brand attributes of premium quality, safety and longevity in the new A-Class, the new model specifically addresses young and contemporary-minded target groups who are particularly interested in sporty design and the ability to integrate digital media into their automobiles. (See A for Attack and Always on) We therefore designed our various campaigns to be expressive and modern in order to attract more customers from those target groups. Among other things, our communication activities here focus on innovative digital media and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.