Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) says that there has been a notable increase in demand for its vehicle models since the 100% CKD and 50% CBU sales tax exemption – in place until December 31 – was announced by the government in June.

In fact, the level of interest has been higher than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic began, according to MBM president and CEO Claus Weidner. “In the last two to three months, we’ve been seeing quite high demand for our cars, higher than at the beginning of the year and even the end of last year, and this is across all models,” he said on the sidelines of the X247 Mercedes-Benz GLB launch earlier today.

He hoped the uptick in demand will continue for the next few months, but added that much would “depend on the environment and how the economy is going.” He added that the volume of traffic at showrooms was quite high at the moment, which was encouraging.

We took the opportunity to ask him about whether the plans to locally-assemble its MFA compact car models had made any inroads. Back in 2018, the company had suggested that it was exploring the possibility of localising assembly of its compact cars in order to expand its footprint in the country.

According to Weidner, those plans are still being looked at. “We’re always looking at opportunities, but it depends on the market demand. We are continuing to look into whether this is a feasible option going forward into the future,” he said.

Asked whether EEV incentives from NAP 2020 (which are being adjusted as a result of the pandemic) would offer enough solidity for the company to plan ahead, he said that the company was waiting for details from the restructured policy to emerge before it can map things out in clearer fashion.

“There are discussions between the MAA and the regulatory authorities, and we have to wait for the outcome as to what the new regulations say, and then we can access how it impacts us. I am pretty confident that the majority of our cars will definitely be covered, but as there is no specific set yet, we have to wait,” he stated.

As for the W213 E-Class facelift, which made its debut in March, that doesn’t look to be coming here this year. It’s likely that the pandemic has shifted delivery and introduction schedules for the car, with Weidner stating that “we will introduce the facelift when we can get it.”