Irresistible Motors
    Category: Companies & People By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 1391 Date : Saturday, May 11, 2013 - 14:40:01

    Edy Purnomo for Forbes Indonesia

    German premium automaker Mercedes-Benz showcases its history in the lobby of its Indonesia headquarters in Jakarta with a life-sized model of a three-wheeled car on display with a contemporary white Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The three-wheeler is the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, the first automobile in the world invented by the founder Karl Benz in 1886. The brand also has a long history in Indonesia, stretching back to 1894 when Pakubuwono X, the sultan of Solo, owned the first Mercedes-Benz in Indonesia, a Benz-Phaeton. The car had a two-liter, one-cylinder engine that created five horsepower and could take up to eight people. The long history and its image are some of the elements of success that make the brand reign supreme in the country, holding more than 50% of the premium car market.

    “The brand is a symbol of successful people and perceived as the ultimate premium car,” says Claus Weidner, 49, president of PT Mercedes-Benz Indonesia (MBI). In an increasingly crowded luxury sedan market, Mercedes retain a certain unmatched cachet. Many heads of state use Mercedes for transport, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has an S-class sedan as his state car.

    MBI started as PT German Motor Manufacturing, the manufacturer of Mercedes in Indonesia, which was established 43 years ago. Currently MBI has 650 staff and 23 dealers nationwide. The brand's market is unique as the company sells a complete range of Mercedes-Benz products, such as passenger cars, vans, buses and trucks. Last year it enjoyed sales of nearly 5,300 units, an increase of 58% from 3,350 units in 2009 (this figure includes all vehicles not just cars). For passenger cars alone, Indonesia saw sales of around 3,500 units last year with C-class, E-class and S-class models contributing 75% of those sales.

    Claus took the helm in January 2012, after being the chief operating officer at Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong for four years. He is very familiar with Asia as he obtained his PhD in East Asian Economic and Social History at Ruhr- Universität Bochum. He started to work at Mercedes-Benz AG (now Daimler AG) 18 years ago as a manager for the East Asian market. Last March was a good sign for the brand as it posted the best sales month in the company's global history with 139,920 vehicles delivered to customers around the world. The start of the year was also looking good for the brand as it targets sales of at least 1.6 million Mercedes-Benz passenger cars each year by 2015 and to lead the way in the premium segment also in terms of unit sales by 2020. “We are Daimler. We don't only want to get better. We want to beat the competition—on a permanent basis,” as one recent Mercedes-Benz press release put it.