Radek Jelinek
President and Director General
Mercedes-Benz México
View from the Top

Tradition Meets Innovation in a Changing World

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 10:10

Q: How has the transition to Mercedes-Benz’s new administration evolved?

A: There is a growing need for digital interaction and we are now working much more closely with our financial services branch. My goal is to prepare Mercedes-Benz for the next 10 years. We are working with our distribution network and our entire supply chain to have truly integrated teams. Mercedes-Benz has been growing, especially in the compact division. Our C-Class has been our best-selling line but we have also seen a significant increase in popularity of the AMG line and the G-Class. Mexico is a diverse market and I think the best opportunity lies in its industrialization. The country’s growth has been considerable and we are expecting this to continue in the short term, perhaps even taking the country to the top eight industrial regions in the world. Globally, we invested €5 billion (US$5.6 billion) in production facilities in 2015, bringing education and wealth to surrounding areas as a result.

Q: How does Mercedes-Benz balance its image as a highend brand with the goal of reaching more customers?

A: We have worked on that dilemma for several years, ever since we launched the C-Class in the ´80s and later the A-Class. Now we are defining a new idea of luxury. Modern luxury not only includes shiny and flashy features but also an adequate balance between work and play, as well as safety and comfort for all passengers. People have changed and although we still have some traditional customers, most of our new clients have a more modern mindset. What all drivers have in common is the desire to feel connected with the brand, having the best car and the best service. Mercedes-Benz offers tradition combined with the highest level of technology. We completely revolutionized our design language when we launched the CLA and the A-Class. The sportiness of these cars allowed us to target a new unexplored market boosted by our quality, our technology development and our strong presence in Formula 1.

Q: How have you built on your success at the 2015 Formula 1 Mexico Grand Prix?

A: Mexico was probably the best Grand Prix of the year. We won first and second place so everything came together. It was a home run for Mercedes. We are now promoting our Formula 1 success in advertising campaigns, inviting drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to new launches and featuring them in special videos. It is not only that we are winning but how we are winning that attracts potential customers. The new team has been amazing and we are encouraged to feature the drivers as brand ambassadors at our events. Rosberg is a Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA ambassador so his participation in every race is crucial to the foundation. Mercedes-Benz’s racing technology will also contribute to its commercial line. Just as some developments originated in Formula 1, several technologies like our hybrid systems have gone from our commercial line into the racing field. This specific trend has been criticized but I think it is a step in the right direction. We can no longer put 10-cylinder engines in our cars and while Formula 1 has to pioneer new technology, there are few better ways to test hybrid technology.

Q: How do you see the brand moving in design and new models?

A: From a design perspective, 2016 will be packed with new releases just as exciting as those in 2015. We launched the new C Coupé in January and the new Smart Fortwo and Forfour will follow. We also will launch a new GLS, the GLC Coupé, as well as several roadsters, like the S Cabriolet and the C Cabriolet, later in the year. Our most important release will be the new E-Class in June which will be arguably the best car money can buy. The S-Class will also be renovated, featuring amazing and sophisticated safety technology. This will be the first car whose airbags inflate before a collision and it will also feature acoustic protection in case of an accident.

Technology and innovation will play a pivotal role in the industry’s development. The market is becoming increasingly digital so we need to change our own mindset and prepare for some disruptions. We are participating in car-sharing services with Car2Go and also have a taxi application called mytaxi. Mercedes-Benz is preparing for how the world is changing and anticipating what our customers will need in the future.