Benz boss parks the crystal ball

The boss of Mercedes-Benz Australia is reluctant, and understandably so, to predict the new-car market for 2009 and to indicate how many Three-Pointed Star cars will be sold. Managing director Horst von Sanden admits the unpredictable effects of the downturn leave no alternative crystal balling for the soothsayers.

"I cannot tell you how many we will sell. We have expectations of a certain market share but are not setting targets for our dealers," von Sanden said.

Then in a burst of optimism he added that "we hope we can match last year [around 15,000 units]".

The Merc boss also said that while it was obvious that some consumers were watching their budgets, the model mix being sold at Mercedes-Benz dealers had not significantly shifted. "We expected downsizing in the model mix, but it hasn't changed."

Von Sanden did concede that some company owners and executives were showing caution in these more difficult financial times and that they were obviously reluctant to purchase an indulgent car when they were occasionally forced to sack staff.

Mercedes-Benz car sales dipped badly in the first two months of 2009, but were up slightly in the month of February thanks to a strong retail sales campaign heavily advertised in the media.

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