TOKYO – Daimler AG will consider building more cars in the U.S. if the dollar remains at current levels or further weakens, Executive Vice President Klaus Maier said today.
Over time, if the dollar relationship stays where it is, we have to increase our production activity in the US, Maier told an automotive conference here.
Maier said the dollars strength doesnt come as a surprise to the industry.
We put scenarios in place a long time ago for a dollar at $1.45 to $1.40 to the euro, he said, adding that such a rate never occurred in the past. Now we have it.
Speaking at a conference organized by Nikkei Business Publications, Maier said Daimler has increased its purchasing in North America and currently builds SUVs there. A second step could be increased production.
Maier, who is in charge of sales and marketing of Mercedes-Benz cars, declined to give a forecast of the companys Smart brand sales in the US. Smarts will go on sale in the US in January 2008. The company has already received 30,000 advance orders for the minicar.
Said Maier: Its the right time. Im absolutely optimistic about the Smarts success in the U.S.
Separately, Mercedes-Benz will launch a new marketing campaign in a few weeks that will make green cars as emotional and as sexy as performance cars.
Maier said company research shows that only 10 percent of prospective Mercedes car buyers are willing to spend more money on sustainable technology.
We need somewhat of a paradigm shift, said Maier.
Maier said that new online marketing initiatives have helped Mercedes' sales efforts.
Many people spent real time with us online, he said.
Following the sale of Chrysler, Maier said he has been able to re-focus his marketing activities on the premium brand. But he said Mercedes has also reaped benefits from its former tie-up with Chrysler.
"Mercedes-Benz used to be a very German company," Maier said. "Now it has achieved internationality and thats been one of the great benefits.
Asked which rival luxury brands he admires, Maier said Bentley impressed him because of the strength of the brand they have created in the last years.