Mercedes-Benz USA will pay dealers who invested in its Autohaus dealership upgrade program an extra half percentage point in margin as a reward, CEO Ernst Lieb said.
The base margin for the approximately 300 dealers who have built new showrooms or modernized their stores rises to 13.5 percent starting this month, Lieb said. Mercedes has 353 U.S. dealerships.
Autohaus dealers had been paid a bonus of $400 per car for up to three years. That reward program -- which was launched in 2008 and expired at the end of 2010 -- was retroactive to the time dealers started construction. Lieb said the program cost Mercedes $220 million.
The Autohaus program is intended to give Mercedes stores a brighter and younger look by using more glass and lighter colors.
Lieb also predicted that Mercedes will see double-digit sales growth in the United States this year because of several new vehicles, including redesigns of the CLS sedan, SLK roadster and M-class crossover; a diesel version of the S-class sedan; and a facelifted C-class sedan and all-new C-class coupe.
Last year Mercedes sold 224,944 vehicles, up from 190,538 in 2009.