Mercedes-Benz is a German automobile manufacturer that is known globally for producing luxury cars, buses, coaches, and trucks. It is a division of Daimler AG. The company has a production network comprising of more than 30 locations on four continents for its car division. Additionally, it has manufacturing facilities in six countries for its van division, while having a strategic alliance with Renault-Nissan to produce some its models.
Mercedes-Benz has been one of the early forerunners in the colorful history of car manufacturing. It all started with Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, who each built a high-speed engine in the 1880s. Benz started to develop one of his first automobiles using a four-stroke engine and bicycle technology in 1885. In the same year, Daimler designed with business partner Wilhelm Maybach what would evolve into a gasoline engine.
In 1886, Benz, who had earlier founded Benz Co Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik, commonly referred to as Benz & Cie, was awarded a patent for his three-wheeled self-propelled "Motorwagen." German patent #37435 would go down in history as a gamechanger for the transportation industry. Benz's wife Bertha, who was actively involved in his business life, played an important role in promoting Benz's newly patented vehicle when she successfully used it on a spontaneous 120-mile trip, demonstrating to the world the capabilities of the invention.
Meanwhile, business partners Gottlieb and Maybach established Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) in 1890. In 1886, the two successfully attached a combustion engine that they had invented the prior year to a motorcycle, a boat, and a stagecoach. The pair's company started selling automobiles by 1892 and found success. In 1901, it launched the first car marketed as Mercedes -- 1901 Mercedes. The car was named after Mercedes Jellinek, the daughter of Emil Jellinek, an Austrian entrepreneur who worked with DMG.
After the First World War, both Benz & Cie and DMG struggled due to the German economic crisis that followed and the growing popularity of overseas car manufacturers. To protect their mutual interest, the two German car makers entered into an agreement that was valid until year 2000. In 1926, however, the two companies decided to merge, instead, giving birth to Daimler-Benz and their joint automobile project called Mercedes-Benz.
In the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz came out with the 770 model, which became popular during the Germany's Nazi period. Adolf Hitler himself was known to have driven this car with bullet proof windows.
After World War II, Daimler-Benz underwent major changes in line with the denazification process that was being implemented, in addition to having to rebuild its plant that was damaged by the war. The post-war slowdown in business, however, was short-lived. West Germany enjoyed a major economic turnaround following the 1948 currency restructuring that facilitated for the change from Reichsmark to the Deutsche Mark. Daimler-Benz reached record sales figures during this time.
In the 1950s, Daimler-Benz started to expand its network, quickly growing it to 178 general distributors globally by 1955. Soonafter, the company opened production facilities in Brazil, Argentina, India, Iran, Turkey, and South Africa to take advantage of lower labor costs as well as to comply with government requirements for local production before granting an import license. In the same year, they also broke through the American market.
Following the acquisition of the American car manufacturer Chrysler Corporation in 1998, Daimler-Benz was renamed Chrysler Corporation, and was reverted to Daimler after Chrysler divested in 2007.
Today, Mercedes-Benz maintains its position as one of the leading brands for luxury vehicles. With more than 120 years' experience under its belt, the company continues to expand. In 2018, the Mercedes-Benz cars division of the organization saw an increase in headcount to 145,436 employees worldwide from 142,666 in 2017 and 139,947 in 2016. Its smaller vans department also beefed up its manpower to 26,210 people by the end of the year, which represents a single-digit growth from 25,255 in 2017 and 24,029 in 2016.
In the Philippines, importation and distributor of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, parts and accessories are handled by Auto Nation Group, Inc. (ANG) through three exclusive dealerships, namely CATS Motors, Inc., Automotive Icon, Inc., and Global Stars Motors Corp. ANG traces its roots to 1989 with the establishment of CATS, which engaged in sales and servicing of car accessories and tires mainly to upscale market. CATS then started focusing on service Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It was eventually appointed as an authorized workshop for the luxury German car brand in 1991 and as a dealer in 1993. Fast forward to 2014, the Auto Nation Group, Inc. was formed to handle the importation of Mercedes-Benz.
Today, ANG has close to 100 employees and operates Mercedes-Benz showrooms in Alabang, Bonifacio Global City, Cebu, and Greenhills.
Mercedes-Benz offers a broad spectrum of premium vehicles that include compact cars, coupes, convertibles, roadsters, off-road vehicles, and S-class luxury sedans. It also has a separate brand, called EQ for Electric Intelligence, that consolidates the company's activities surrounding electric mobility. It also carries a comprehensive lineup of vans, which include large and mid-size vans, urban delivery vehicles, full-sized multi-purpose vehicles, travel vans, recreational vehicles, and business pickups.
One of the more popular nameplates coming from Mercedes-Benz is GLC -- where G stands for Geländewagen (German for off-road car), L for linkage, and C for C-Class -- one of the company's SUV offerings. This lineup is available in several diesel and petrol engine options, all of which come attached to either a nine-speed (9G-TRONIC) automatic transmission or a seven-speed (7G-TRONIC PLUS) automatic transmission. The base trim GLC 200 uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with 16 valves. Mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission (9G-TRONIC), it generates a maximum output of 184 horsepower and 300 Nm of torque. One of the recent additions to models available in the Philippines is the all-new 2019 A-class, which comes in sleek and sporty five-door hatchback form. There are three variants to choose from, namely A 180 Progressive, A 200 Progressive, and A 200 Edition 1. All are powered by a new 1.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
The Mercedes-Benz Cars division, which carries a wide range of premium vehicles, the Mercedes-AMG high-performance lineup, and the Mercedes-Maybach luxury nameplates, sold about 2.4 million units in 2018, which allowed it to remain as the leading premium car manufacturer in the global marketplace. It also marked the company's eighth consecutive record for sales volume. Much of the growth stemmed from the China market, which contributed 28 percent of unit sales. Next to China, Mercedes-Benz cars' biggest markets during the year were the United States (14 percent), Germany (14 percent), Japan (3 percent), and South Korea (3 percent), and other European markets (28 percent).
From a car type perspective, sports utility vehicles were its best sellers, contributing 35 percent Mercedes-Benz cars sold in 2018, followed by C-Class models at 20 percent. E-class, A-/B-class, smart, S-Class, and Sports Cars chipped in 18 percent, 17 percent, five percent, four percent, and one percent, respectively. The Mercedes-Benz Vans division, which handles the company's expansive lineup of commercial and consumer van lineup also achieved record sales during the year, with 421,000 units sold during the year. The good performance was partly driven by bulk purchases by key customers such as Hymer and Amazon. The European Union region made up 66 percent of unit sales in 2018, while North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries and Asia contributed 12 percent and 9 percent, respectively. The Sprinter vans were its topselling model, comprising 49 percent of total sales volume, followed by the Vito vans at 26 percent.
Participating in motorsport activities is an important component of Mercedes-Benz's marketing strategy, as such events serve as a stage for the car company to showcase its cars' capabilities. Throughout its long history, the organization has been actively involved in various sportscar races and rallies. Today, it is active in Formula One, Formula Three, and Formula E.
Mercedes-Benz has bullish plans to grow its lineup of electric cars in the coming years. The organization aims to have electric models comprising 15 -25 percent of unit sales by 2025. With this, the company is planning to launch more than 10 all-electric cars. The company's van division is not to be left behind. Two models, the eVito and the eSprinter, is expected to bring excitement to car enthusiasts this year.
The car manufacturer aims to move production of electric vehicles to facilities in Breen, Rastatt, and Sidelfignen, Germany; Hambarch, France; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; United States; and China. Mercedes-Benz will also expand its global battery network to nine plants at seven sites worldwide.
Mercedes-Benz has also been actively pursuing its interest in automated and autonomous driving through Vision URBANETIC. This mobility concept offers an autonomous driving platform that allows for flexible use of vans for transporting cargo or passengers. It has demonstrated partially automated driving on a bus rapid transit (BRT) route in Netherlands through its Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot.
Intelligent connectivity is another area that the company has ventured in, with Mercedes-Benz cars being part of the Internet of things. The company aims to offer a broader range of digital services, with its intuitive Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) control system concept leading the way.