The popular SUV is the third model to be added to the local production portfolio.
Mercedes has made another milestone in China, as the first locally produced GLK compact SUV rolled off the line at their Beijing production plant. Daimler and Chinese Joint Venture partner BAIC signed an agreement in June to further expand their cooperation in China and the GLK is one of a number of projects in the pipeline. The crossover has been a huge success for Mercedes, especially in China where 20,000 units were sold in 2011 alone.
"No doubt, local production of the GLK is not only a benchmark in Beijing-Benz's portfolio, but also shows the company's confidence and perseverance to further tap China's high-end auto segment," said Xu Heyi, president of the joint venture. The locally-built model will have a slightly longer wheelbase than the imported version to accommodate domestic tastes, otherwise it will be identical. It will go on sale by the end of the year and be sold for around 380,000 to 400,000 yuan (around $59,000 to $62,000); the GLK will then stop being imported.
Beijing Benz currently builds the new-gen C-Class and the long-wheelbase E-Class, and in the next five years the joint venture will launch four locally built models, namely a new A-Class, B-Class and small SUV BLK in addition to the GLK, with a new localized model coming to market each year from 2012 to 2015. Mercedes-Benz sold 168,940 vehicles in China from January to November 2011 and aims to shift more than 300,000 by 2015 when it will have 25 to 30 new dealerships across the country. "The localized production of further Mercedes-Benz models is an important element of our growth strategy for the Chinese market.
As early as 2015 we expect to locally produce two-thirds of all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars sold in China. The start of production of the GLK is another important milestone towards this goal," said Ulrich Walker, Chairman & CEO of Daimler Northeast Asia.