Radek Jelinek
President and Director General of Mercedes-Benz México
Mercedes-Benz México
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Insight

Tradition Meets Innovation

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 09:54

Moving into the future can be challenging for a company but even more so when its offering is based on tradition and an established image. Still, it is the only way to succeed in a market that evolves as quickly as automotive, according to Radek Jelinek, President and Director General of Mercedes-Benz México.
“We want to combine the legend that is Mercedes-Benz with advanced technology and a mobility experience that goes beyond the vehicle itself,” says Jelinek. With a history that goes back to 1886 and a legacy as the inventor of the automobile, Mercedes-Benz is the oldest brand in the automotive industry and for 132 years it has managed to remain ahead of the latest trends impacting vehicle development and consumer preference.
As a premium brand, Mercedes-Benz has traditionally been associated with the status and luxury reserved for just a few. The company is changing that idea as younger generations with a fresh idea of lifestyle and comfort become potential buyers. “We are detaching our idea of luxury from what can be considered ostentatious or presumptuous,” says Jelinek. “Although we still have many traditional clients, we also need to focus on the millennial generation and their technology and connectivity-based approach as well as our sports-oriented clients who prefer the AMG brand.”
To truly participate in the latest industry trends, in 2017 Mercedes-Benz decided to open a new business branch called CASE solely focused on addressing four key topics and finding the best way to combine them with the company’s technology development strategy. “Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric: each of these has the power to turn our entire industry upside down. But the true revolution is in combining them in a comprehensive, seamless package,” said Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management at Daimler AG, after the creation of CASE. The company has invested in several mobility ventures, such as car2go and MyTaxi, but it has now vowed to destine €10 billion (US$12 billion) through CASE on the development of its electrified fleet. Jelinek expects that by 2020, the newly created EQ brand will start marketing Mercedes-Benz’s full-electric models, while CASE continues to develop innovative solutions related to connectivity and self-driving technology. “We are collaborating with technology developers in our R&D center in Silicon Valley to deliver this technology,” says Jelinek.
Although the bases for CASE are emerging global trends, Jelinek sees them as a challenge in Mexico as in the rest of the world. “Our clients are as equally connected to the latest trends as anyone in Germany or the UK,” he says. “We cannot differentiate our products according to the region because clients demand the latest from us.” Proof of that is Mercedes-Benz’s introduction of its state-of-the-art intelligent multimedia system called MBUX, which the company premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2018. MBUX features a natural speech recognition platform called LINGUATRONIC that is capable of learning and changing its use of language based on its interaction with the user, according to Daimler’s information. “Instead of implementing this system in our high-end S-Class models, we integrated it in the A-Class family, which is oriented to younger customers eager for this technology,” says Jelinek.
Mercedes-Benz’s goal for 2018 is to remain the leading brand in the premium market, using digitalization as a platform to modernize its entire operation. Beyond innovating in its technology, the company is also investing in simplicity and velocity of response using data analysis tools to understand its clients better. “Our goal is to get to know our clients intimately to offer a tailor-made solution to each of them,” says Jelinek. 2018 will also be an important year for Mercedes-Benz in Mexico, marking 25 years of the brand’s history in the country after being the first premium player to venture into the Mexican market. The company expects to release the new G-Class, CLS and A-Class models in the second half of the year, as well as a full renovation of the GLE by the end of 2018. However, the biggest news for Mexico is that by 2H18, the COMPAS joint project between Daimler and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance will start producing the sedan version of the A-Class for the entire world.