Mercedes went to town last night on the eve of the Detroit motor show.
Fitting out a floor of the Westin Hotel, they built a stage set and 360-degree wrap-around video screens.
At various points of the evening we had a local classic orchestra, the static exhibition of a replica 1886 Benzwagen (the 1bhp engine was spun into life by a Mercedes engineer and the machine tillered off behind the stage screens – an amazing site) and a song from ‘Grammy award-winning’ Colbie Caillat.
The wrap around video treatment was clever showing the true 360degree internal view from inside all kinds of Mercedes cars being driven in different places around the globe.
And all this for the…C-class facelift. Well, as smart as the new C undoubtedly is (Merc claimed that if most manufacturers changed 2000 parts in a car they’d call it ‘all new’) the presentations by three board members were more about the state of the mighty Benz powerhouse.
Global sales in 2010 rose 15 per cent and global sales of the (handsomely profitable) C-Class range actually went up 11 per cent last year, making it the market leader in its segment. Since the current model was launched in March 2007, around one million units have been sold.
In 2011, the company’s 125th year, bosses expect global demand for cars to leap six per cent. And Merc will invest more than 10bn Euros in research and development.
Indeed Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG and boss of Mercedes cars, said that Mercedes had filled 80,000 patents since 1886, an average of two per day.
“When I get back to my office,” he quipped, “I expect to find six smart new ideas on my desk.”
This is a company simply exuding confidence. The brand new A- and B-Class ranges are not too far away and at the end of the month Benz will unveil a new technology patent it claims will be as influential as the one behind the 1886 Karl Benz Patent-Motorwagen.
No wonder Zetsche was grinning all evening.
Benz bosses L-R: Joachim Schmidt (head of sales and marketing), Dieter Zetsche, Thomas Weber (head of research and development).