Daimler Sells Smart Cars Through Sina Microblog Service in China

Daimler AG, the world’s third-biggest luxury-vehicle maker, will sell a limited edition of its Smart city car through China’s largest microblog service as it reaches out to the country’s 564 million Internet users.

Daimler will offer 666 units of the two-door Smart car from tomorrow on Sina Corp.’s Twitter-like Weibo service. Buyers have to register online and put down a 1,999 yuan ($321) deposit for the 128,888-yuan model, according to the Sina.com website.

Tying up with social networking services gives automakers like Daimler an alternative avenue to reach consumers even as they open more sales outlets in the world’s largest vehicle market. The Stuttgart, Germany-based automaker sold 15,680 Smart cars in China last year, a 45 percent increase from 2011, according to the company.

Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said on Jan. 14 the company must turn around its struggling Chinese operations to catch up with Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Volkswagen AG’s Audi.

Mercedes fell further behind BMW and Audi in sales last year as it grew more slowly in China than its two main rivals. Daimler didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail request for comment on the Smart promotion.

China added 51 million Internet users last year, giving it more Web users than the population of any other country in the world excluding India. Started in 2009, Sina Weibo has more than 368 million registered users, according to its website.

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