Mercedes-Benz looks to China to drive 2024 car sales
German car giant Mercedes-Benz has recently warned about lower earnings due to economic uncertainty worldwide. But chairman Ola Källenius has told CGTN Europe that the firm is looking to China to drive growth now that the country has dropped its extensive COVID-19 restrictions.
Källenius said: "For the automotive industry we will see a spillover into the first quarter from this period of being away from zero COVID to a full opening up. But we can also see that the government and the policy makers are working on stimulating the economy."
He added: "We're watching this carefully and it could lead to a rebound of the economy and thereby also the car market later in this year."
Since January 1, the Chinese government no longer provides subsidies to buyers of electric vehicles (EVs). But Källenius insists this will not have a large effect on EV sales in the country.
He said: "Most of the incentivization has been on the lower end of the market, below where the product offering of Mercedes-Benz starts. Ultimately, market forces alone are going to have to be what decides on how the EV market develops."
Källenius is also confident that the reported reluctance of young people to own cars will not prove too detrimental.
"Young people are brand-oriented and want hi-tech. We can see that, especially when you (they) reach the phase in your life where you start a family," he said.
"We had this debate some years ago about Gen Y, and now we see that Gen Y is one of our biggest buying groups. Now we're talking about Gen Z and I think we will move in that direction as well."