Mercedes-Benz Sells 205 Smart Cars Online in 3.5 Hours

Group Purchases Have Become $149 Million Business in China

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BEIJING ( -- Mercedes-Benz sold 205 Smart cars in three-and-a-half hours in China on Sept. 9 in one of the country's largest online group purchases to date. The Smart car is a tiny, more affordable urban vehicle.

Consumers vied for cars normally priced at RMB 176,000 ($26,303). When the number of car purchases in the group deal climbed to 50, the price for everyone dropped to RMB 167,000 ($24,958). When the number of car buyers finally reached 200, the limit for the sale, the price fell by a further RMB 135,000 ($20,825). The final sales price for buyers was less than 33% of the original asking price. Participants in the group purchase only had to cough up a RMB 999 ($149) deposit to place an order on the day of the group purchase.

The first car was sold after 24 seconds, 55 cars sold after six minutes and 205 cars were ultimately purchased after three-and-a-half hours, when the offer was closed.

The transaction, which is believed to have set a record in China for the most revenue changing hands in a single deal over the shortest period of time, was made on Taobao, the consumer retail division of the B2B e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.

Group purchases let consumers negotiate for everything from cars to concert tickets to receive volume discounts for multiple, simultaneous purchases. They have become increasingly popular in China, which has nearly 1,000 websites dedicated to organizing group purchases, with combined annual turnover estimated at RMB 1,000,000,000 ($149.45 million).

Sources: China News Services, People's Daily Online,

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