Germany’s BMW took the lead in the luxury car segment in India away from Mercedes Benz last year. Now, Mercedes Benz India intends to win back top honors with the launch of new luxury vehicles this year.
Mercedes launched the newest S-Class luxury sedan model and a new sports utility vehicle GL recently in Delhi. The company expects double-digit growth in the next year from sales of the new launches.
Mercedes Benz CEO Wilfried Aulbur said, “We lost out BMW in 2009 because of limited availability of our E-Class car.” He also said, “This will be a blockbuster year for us in India. We have launched new cars and would import several models to build up excitement through the entire year.”
More models from the German automaker will be launched at the Auto Expo within the next several days. One model being unveiled there is the new C-Class sedan. Other new models include a diesel hybrid, the new E-Coupe, an M-Class SUV and a 3-axle bus. CEO Aulbur says that the company has no intention of going into small car production and sees no significant market for it right now.
Mercedes is currently considering investing up to Rs 200 crore to grow its network of dealers across the country. They will also be adding jobs in India to keep up with increased demand and production.
New models from Mercedes Benz have been eagerly awaited by customers; their absence has caused fatigue in the luxury buying crowd. This coupled with massive marketing efforts by BMW gave BMW a definite lead, and they sold 3,619 vehicles compared to Mercedes total of 3,220. Audi, in the number three position, had a sales total of 1,550 cars up to November 2009.
Mercedez-Benz was first brought to India in 1994 through a joint venture with the country’s largest automaker, Tata Motors. Mercedes is owned by Daimler, and currently has about a 4% stake in Tata. The joint venture ended in 1997, but Mercedes has continued producing vehicles through facilities leased through Tata Motors. The company opened its own facility in Pune in February of last year and has been producing C,E and S class cars there.
Analysts expect luxury sales to total over 10,000 during the 2010 fiscal year. The segment is the most rapidly growing one in the Indian auto market, and BMW, Audi will likely see sales numbers double. Mercedes Benz will continue to launch new models to protect its market share.
Within the luxury segment (all in the Rs 40-55 lakh bracket), the BMW 5Series, Mercedes E-class and the Audi A6 are the fastest selling cars. The newly designed sports utility vehicles like the Mercedes M-class, the Audi Q7 and the BMW X6 are also attracting a great deal of attention from buyers.