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2023 will be "a very strong year," says Beijing Benz CEO

Updated:2023-03-13 14:16:12

The Mercedes-Benz and BAIC Group joint venture in Beijing expects to see a very positive operational year in 2023, having gotten off to a very strong start, its president said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

The company has returned to a completely normal operations environment, making a "great start" in 2023, said Arno van der Merwe, CEO and president of Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (BBAC). "We are looking forward to a very strong year operationally."

China has dynamically optimized and adjusted the measures for COVID-19 prevention and control. With enhanced social mobility and international exchanges, the world's second-largest economy is on course for a robust economic comeback.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, BBAC was able to achieve its targets in 2022, producing more than 600,000 vehicles last year, said van der Merwe.

The joint venture has seen rapid development since its establishment in 2005, producing more than 4 million vehicles by 2022. There are 11 different models currently available on the Chinese market, including four electric vehicle models.

According to the China Passenger Car Association, new energy vehicles (NEVs) accounted for 27.6 percent of China's total passenger car sales in 2022.

To address the increasing needs of the giant new energy vehicle market in China, the company has made transitions in its assembly lines, and is now able to shift production flexibly for fuel-powered, hybrid and electric cars based on market demand.

BBAC launched its first electric vehicle production cycle in 2019, covering products such as vehicles, batteries and modules.

"That is a very good foundation and a very good experience for us to build on our capability," van der Merwe said.

He also noted multiple local NEV producers, such as BYD, NIO, XPeng and Li Auto, have emerged in China in recent years, and he said he believes competition will help make the market more mature and promote high-quality economic recovery.

"Competition brings out the best products in engineering development. We are very confident that we have the right technology roadmap to compete in this fast-developing industry and we welcome the competition," he said.