Mercedes-Benz, a luxury arm of Daimler- Chrysler, is planning to increase the number of its service stations in China from 24 to 46 by the end of 2004, China Daily said. The move is an attempt to repair the public relations damage caused to the firm late last year when the owner of one its SK230 sedans in Wuhan, Hubei province, set fire to his car in protest after he said the company failed to repair it. The company agreed last month to repair the car.
Competition in the luxury car market is increasing following the reduction of import tariffs after China’s entry to the WTO. German car maker Audi announced plans to double exports to China this year, from last year’s total of 1,000 units. Rival BMW is awaiting Chinese government approval for its plans to set up a joint venture with China Brilliance Group.