German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz has appointed a new head to lead its Indian subsidiary as current MD and CEO, Roland Folger, moves to pursue a new role within the company after completion of his three-year term in September 2018. Folger, who will take charge of Mercedes' operations in Thailand and Vietnam, will be succeeded by Martin Schwenk, CFO of Mercedes-Benz China.
With Folger at the helm, Mercedes-Benz India strengthened its position as the country's highest-selling luxury carmaker by gaining a significant lead over rivals BMW and Audi. Moreover, under his lead, Mercedes was the first carmaker to launch a locally assembled BS-VI-compliant vehicle in the country, two years ahead of the government deadline of April 2020. Highly rated by company insiders and dealer principals, Folger is considered to be one of the best CEOs to have steered Mercedes-Benz in India.
Folger has also proven to be one of the most outspoken CEOs of the auto industry as he reacted strongly to the various policy changes and flip-flops by the government, which affected the long-term planning of most carmakers.
In the past three years under the leadership of Roland Folger, Mercedes-Benz India has witnessed significant growth rates achieving the highest market share in the luxury car segment. Folger played a key role in formulating the brands growth strategy that includes market introductions of key products like the rollout of the E-Class Long Wheelbase, qualitative expansion of the network footprint, and also the creation of the Vehicle Preparation Centre. In 2017, Mercedes-Benz India achieved sales history by crossing the 15,000 annual sales number. During his tenure in India, Roland Folger has also been instrumental in initiating an array of positive cultural changes within Mercedes-Benz India and successfully driving Daimler AG’s Expedition 2020 initiative.
Commenting on his India innings, Roland Folger said: “My India stint will remain memorable with rich experiences and fond memories. The warmth of our customers and people, the diversity of the country’s culture, and the unique business opportunities and challenges that this market presents, is enormous and truly enriching. I am very satisfied about Mercedes-Benz India’s strong leadership position in the market and our relentless efforts in creating new benchmark in customer delight. Mercedes-Benz India is deeply committed to the Indian market and together we have created a valuable organization, which retains the coveted ‘Most Attractive Employer’ accomplishment. I am thoroughly convinced that the Star will achieve new heights with the new leadership of Martin Schwenk.”
He added, “In 2015, I came to India from Malaysia and will go back to the South East Asian markets of Thailand and Vietnam. While I am eagerly looking forward to my new assignment, there will be a bit of India always inside me.”
Martin Schwenk, currently the Chief Financial Officer of Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co in China, stated, “Having worked across in different countries and functions, I am extremely excited for my forthcoming responsibility to head the dynamic India market. India’s rich cultural diversity, the young population, the diverse customs, different languages and topography together with its importance as a future economic power house; makes it a compelling market to grow the business. It is a privileged opportunity for me to head the business of the most iconic and successful luxury motoring brand, in one of the most vibrant markets in the region. With my experience across various business divisions, I am looking forward to pursue the ‘Indian story’ further and make the foundation of Mercedes-Benz even stronger in India. We have a fantastic winning team comprising our people and investors with proven records, and I am eager to be part of this winning team.”
Martin Schwenk, who will take the new responsibility of heading Mercedes-Benz India from November 1, 2018 has an Engineering degree from the University of Stuttgart and started his career at Daimler in 1992, through the Mercedes-Benz Trainee Program. Afterwards, he has taken various important positions in Finance and Controlling in several locations, including Germany, South Africa, Austria and United States.
In September 2015, Schwenk joined the Mercedes-Benz Sales Organization in China as the Chief Financial Officer. With his professional insights and strategic direction, he played a leading role on the progress of many critical projects and business processes, and proved himself indispensable in safeguarding the sustainable success of MB passenger car business in China.