On March 1, Fujian Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Bentz vans, announced in Fuzhou, where it is based, that its company name was officially changed to Fujian Benz. The move was based on the observation that Mercedes-Benz, often called just "Benz" by Chinese as in "Beijing Benz," is more recognizable a premium vehicle brand than Daimler in the country. It reflects the joint venture’s growth ambition and wish to work more closely with Daimler AG.
"Re-naming is just a beginning. Fuqi (for Fujian Motor–editor) has had talks with Daimler, and both sides have agreed to deepen cooperation. Dr. Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG, supports this name-change," said LIAN Xiaoqiang, Chairman of Fujian Motor and Fujian Benz.
Founded in 2007, Fujian Daimler was a 50/50 joint venture between Fujian Motor Industry Group Company and Hong Kong Daimler Vans Limited–owned by Daimler AG (having 33.78% stake in Fujian Daimler) and Taiwan China Motor Corporation (having 16.22% stake in Fujian Daimler). Production started in April, 2010, but sales has since been unsatisfactory.
The joint venture will open a local R&D center, costing 500 million Yuan, in the third quarter this year and plan to increase annual capacity to 40,000 units in 2013. Several new models will be launched in the coming few years to expand the product line, currently including Vito, Viano, and Sprinter.
The only manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz brand commercial vehicles in Asia and Oceania, Fujian Benz has currently a limited dear network, comprising about 50 retail outlets. YANG Hujun, sales VP of the company, told reporters that the count would increase to 100 by the end of this year to cover more cities across China.