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Strangely enough, a conversation between Italophile Arnoud Zuijdendorp of Stern Auto BV and car and Mercedes fanatic Sander Lusink is initially not about cars and suits, but about millennials and design. Although a car is never far away: “I picked up my first date in a Fiat 500.”

Rise of the millennials Sander: “The reason that I have really become a bit of a Mercedes fan is your design: the finish, the buttons, the stitching and even that little LED light. So elegant! And very progressive.” Arnoud: “How good to hear! Mercedes Benz has also really focused on design and an almost fashionable approach. Of course, we also have a collaboration with Fashion Week, so we have a good partner when it comes to inspiration and motivation.” Sander: “Yes, but you are doing really well. I recently read somewhere that even boats and private jets are being decorated in Mercedes design.” Arnoud: “That's right. As one of the older car manufacturers, we focus very much on millennials: the young target group. And especially on women. The time when the man bought the woman a car is over. A woman now buys a car herself, and that is certainly not a 'little car'. Women want agile and affordable cars of premium quality that are safe and look nice. This target group is really different and we adapt to that. The design is an example of this.” Sander: “Yes, we also notice that, the rise of the millennials. That is why we are opening a store this fall that is completely different from all other OGER stores. A kind of OGER 2.0: high-quality customization, but extremely manageable, both in terms of price and ordering method. An online wardrobe with customization; just like I can control my Mercedes remotely with my phone.”

”What are you doing? Nobody in Naples stops for orange, you drive!”.

Destination Italy Sander: “Where would you drive to in this Mercedes AMG GT C Roadster, Arnoud?” Arnoud: “To Lake Garda in Italy. I am literally at home there and this is the ultimate car for such an environment. Enjoy a nice run along the lake and enjoy all the good things that Italy has to offer.” Sander: “How many kilometers do you walk?” Arnoud: “Usually a lap of 10 kilometers.” Sander: “That's why you're so slim.” A laughing Arnoud: “Well, that's not too bad, but I'm doing my best.” Sander: “I do my rounds in Italy by car, you know. I was once lucky enough to drive the Mille Miglia: a race for vintage cars along a number of beautiful Italian cities, which starts and ends in Brescia. Then you come to exceptionally beautiful places: Lucca, Verona, Bologna, Rome and Sienna. It is the most enchanting route I have ever driven, like a kind of movie set.” Arnoud: “Italy is a pleasant drive, I like driving the road to Tremosine, in the mountains near Lake Garda: very narrow, very steep through a gorge. And as you ascend those 600 meters you look straight at Lake Garda. It's like being in the Efteling, very surreal. And I like to drive to Italy via Austria, those mountains, fantastic!

It is beautiful to tour in the Alps. Germany is completely hidden, I think that is a real tragedy.” Sander: “Yes, terrible! We had to go to Hamburg and thought: we are going to have a nice drive, but we only got stuck in a traffic jam.” The first car Arnoud: “My first car was a Fiat 500 and I also picked up my first date with it. Both the date – now my wife – and the Fiat are still in my life. The Fiat is 44 years old; I've had it for 28 years now. I recently drove it to Italy with my son.” Sander: “How beautiful! My first car was a Nissan Micra by OGER. I was nineteen at the time, if I remember correctly. And after the Nissan I got the first new Mini. Another thing that will stay with me forever is the time I was allowed to drive a supplier's Maserati in Italy while he sat next to me. As we approached an orange traffic light in Naples, I dutifully let off the gas. But that was not the intention: “What are you doing? Nobody in Naples stops for orange, you drive!” So then I pushed through.

But that was quite exciting, when those other cars started coming towards you.” Arnoud, laughing: “Yes, in Naples no one drives with mirrors, they have all been taken off. Italians generally drive a bit wilder.” Sander: “How is Mercedes actually doing in Italy?” Arnoud: “Good! You see them a lot in Northern Italy.” Sander: “And how many cars do you actually have? A Mercedes, a Fiat, and…?” Arnoud: “That was it. A Mercedes and a Fiat. And for work I alternate with new Mercedes models.” Sander, laughing: “How annoying for you that you sometimes have to drive new models like this AMG GT C Roadster. Then again I don't have that. But I'm also quite satisfied with my C-Class plug-in hybrid. Drives great! Mercedes of course.”

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