"Last year, two thirds of the vehicles we sell in China [were] locally produced," Daimler's top man there said. Cars are produced by the Beijing Benz joint venture which also makes engines. More local products are coming
Daimler insists the relative slowdown in the formerly exponential growth rate of China's economy is still powering the automotive sector to achieve sustainable sales increases.
China's hitherto astonishing economy performance has cooled of late with the former growth rates of 20%-plus now a receding memory, but the country is nonetheless continuing to post increases which would be regarded as extremely healthy in most of the west. [China sales more than doubled in May - ed.]
"The question is always, how critical is the situation, is it going to be a hard landing?" said Daimler board member for Greater China, Hubertus Troska, at this week's Global Automotive Forum (GAF) in Chongqing.
"My answer has been it is true we do live in the new normal. Growth rates in China are less than before, but the growth is more sustainable and 6%-7% GDP growth for the second biggest economy in the world is a very good number.
"Density of cars in China is still relatively low, there is still room to grow. It is no surprise China is by far the biggest car market in the world and this is why all brands are here. For almost all of us, it is the biggest market in the world."
China's economy still outstrips most competitors on the planet and GAF in Chongqing homed in on the key themes of: 'Pivoting to a New Round of Development, China Opportunities, the 13th Five-Year Plan and Made in China 2025.'
"As it matures, growth will slow down, that is a fact," added Troska. "We clearly are on the verge to increase local production. Last year, two thirds of the vehicles we sell in China [were] locally produced. Together with our Chinese partners we will put more local products into the market to be more competitive.
"Mercedes-Benz sales in China grew by 35% and surpassed the US, [while] May has been another great month. We are not naive [however]. Especially in China, our business model will change dramatically in the next years [and] will see more change than ever before.
"The world around us is changing. Digitalisation is changing how customers get information [and] the role of our dealers is changing."
China is enthusiastically embracing electric cars as a way to curb pollution, with one supplier at GAF noting it had been approached by 18 companies alone interested in securing the new technology and the Daimler Greater China chief welcomed the new drive.
"For 130 years, traditional technology has been an entry barrier," noted Troska. "With electric vehicles, that will be much lower.
"There will be new companies entering this field. We should take these new players seriously but we are not afraid."