ORLANDO -- Mercedes-Benz dealers urged the automaker to open the faucet a tad on vehicle inventories, especially the M-class crossover and E-class coupe, as the automaker prepares for higher volumes in 2010.
Factory officials told dealers at the make meeting that it is forecasting a sales upturn of more than 10 percent in 2010, said people who attended the meeting. That would mean an additional 20,000 to 25,000 sales across the brand.
The year will see added sales from an E-class convertible and wagon, a freshened R class and the new SLS AMG, Robert Yeatman Jr., Mercedes-Benz USA general manager for sales management and volume planning, told the meeting.
Yeatman said the company began to see increased demand for the M class in the fourth quarter and asked for more production during 2010.
The company also assured dealers it will have 100,000 used vehicles coming into the pipeline to fuel the brand's growth in certified-used sales. Yeatman said Mercedes sold more than 100,000 used vehicles in 2009.
Late last year, the company introduced a program extending Mercedes factory financing to customers who buy certified-used and off-lease Mercedes vehicles, Tommy Baker, owner of Baker Motor Co. in Charleston, S.C., said after the make meeting. Baker is chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board.
Mark Ingram, vice president of sales and operations for Mercedes-Benz Financial, said at the meeting that Mercedes is committed to financing off-lease vehicles. He told dealers that the off-lease financing program will help them retain customers.
Also during the meeting, some dealers complained about a sales-generating program Mercedes began using last year. One dealer said the program -- run by the online vehicle sales service Zag.com and USAA financial institution -- is not accurately channeling sales to the dealer closest to the customer's location.
Another dealer argued that customers who use the program to receive discounts on Mercedes purchases probably would have come into showrooms to buy a Mercedes vehicle even without the discount.
Yeatman said Mercedes plans to meet with Zag about the dealer's issues in the next few weeks. He said the program will benefit from a few tweaks to address the dealers' points.