Mercedes-Benz launches more eco-friendly cars

Mercedes-Benz launches more eco-friendly cars

CHIANG MAI — Mercedes-Benz (Thailand), the local unit of the German luxury car maker, is to beef up its hybrid and electric vehicles this year to capitalise on the trend for environmentally friendly vehicles.

President and chief executive Michael Grewe said the company had now localised two new plug-in hybrid models, the S500e and C350e, at Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant in Samut Prakan on top of its three existing hybrid models, the C300 BlueTEC Hybrid, E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid and S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid.

The company is holding test drives for the media this week in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai for the new hybrid models.  

"Thailand's assembly plant for Mercedes-Benz is very important for us in the longer run because it is the first country in Asia-Pacific that makes hybrid and electric vehicles," said Mr Grewe.

Its joint-venture assembly plant is capable of making a maximum of 19,000 vehicles a year, but it now makes about 4,500.

The Thai unit plans to launch 20 more models in 2016.

The company is also committed to increasing its nationwide network from 31 to 36 branches.

"I am confident the country's luxury car market will remain strong despite sluggish car market prospects," said Mr Grewe.

Mercedes-Benz yesterday reported its whole-year sales in Thailand in 2015 peaked at an all-time high of 12,776 passenger cars and commercial vehicles, up from 11,328 in 2014.

In December alone, its sales rose by 47.1% year-on-year to 2,761 vehicles due to anticipated higher retail prices of vehicles in 2016 due to the new excise tax.

The new tax is based on carbon dioxide emissions, E85 gasohol compatibility and fuel efficiency instead of engine size.

The structure encourages manufacturers to make their vehicles compatible with E85 gasohol and produce eco-cars at reasonable prices.

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