Gao has "essential know-how about China and other Asian growth markets," Kallenius said in the release. "This makes Paul the right choice to further enhance the international profile of our brand, our management and our company."
China is Mercedes's largest market, with 758,863 sales in 2021, a decline of 2 percent over 2020. That represents about 36 percent of Mercedes’ global passenger car sales.
Chinese buyers prefer the automaker's high-end offerings such as the S-Class, Mercedes-Maybach and G-Class, adding to the market’s importance as Kallenius seeks to raise Mercedes’ pricing and brand positioning across the board.
The automaker's two largest individual shareholders are Chinese, with BAIC holding 9.98 percent of voting rights, and Geely Chairman Eric Li holding 9.69 percent.