Chengdu is the biggest Mercedes sales training center outside Germany (Photo: Daimler)

Mercedes-Benz has opened a new sales training center in Chengdu in southwestern China, the biggest of its kind outside Germany. It is the sixth Chinese facility operated by the premium car division of Germany's Daimler.

The center is capable of offering 55,000 training days a year for employees of Mercedes dealerships. Mercedes has 260 dealers in 115 Chinese cities and plans to add about 50 annually in coming years.

At the Chengdu facility, dealer staff can be taught how to handle day-to-day work requirements in a simulated showroom, where trainers replicate real sales and service situations. Training is provided for sales and service staff as well as for managers.

"Employee training at the highest level is part of our long-term growth strategy in China," said Joachim Schmidt, head of the brand's sales and marketing. Mercedes plans to introduce 20 new models in China in the next three years and Schmidt said training is essential to provide proper representation for the brand in the important Chinese market.

Mercedes is reorganizing its Chinese sales operations, which have lagged behind other brands in recent years. Partly as a result of the changes, first-quarter sales fell to 45,440 units from 51,328 a year earlier. But Mercedes said it expects "sustained profitable sales growth" in China in the medium term.