If you are a Mercedes Benz fan, you would be familiar with the name Carlsson. A little history about the company before I continue with the article.
Carlsson Autotechnik is a tuning and aftermarket parts company that specialises in Mercedes Benz vehicles. The company was started by two brothers, Rolf and Andreas Hartge, and the company name honours the Swedish rally driver, Ingvar Carlsson, who raced for the Mercedes Rally Team during the 1980s. They make parts for virtually every Mercedes Benz model, including the Mercedes Benz Vito.
Zhongsheng Group has bought a 70 percent stake in the company for an undisclosed amount and they intend to use Carlsson’s services to help differentiate the vehicles on their showroom floor. At the same time, they plan to build a new retail chain for the sale of highly modified luxury cars and too keep up with the expected demand; Zhongsheng also plans to build new factories in China to manufacture Carlsson parts.
Zhongsheng will be seeking factory-approval from automakers for all of the modifications so that the warranties can be maintained. In addition to Mercedes-Benz models, Zhongsheng is hoping to sell parts developed by Carlsson for some of the other brands the company sells. The Chinese auto dealer group has around 140 showrooms representing brands such as Mercedes Benz, Lexus, Volvo, Porsche, Toyota and Nissan.
Although luxury vehicle sales in China is a little slow, vehicle customisation is still at the infant stage. In 2011, Zhongsheng Group sold US$50 million worth of accessories and parts through its dealer network and with the acquisition of the controlling stake in Carlsson this figure is expected to grow significantly.
Photo credit: Net Car Show