Mercedes-Benz, which became the country's leading luxury carmaker in the first quarter, looks to retain the top slot through the rest of the year as it hopes to continue 40 percent sales growth. The brand is also hopeful that the luxury car space will outgrow the overall industry growth by a huge margin with over 20 percent growth this fiscal.
The 33,000-units luxury car space (2014) is dominated by three German companies, Merc, Audi and BMW, and the three-pointed star brand expects this to touch 40,000 units this year, clocking 21 percent growth over last year. Industry body SIAM, however, expects only a moderate growth this fiscal.
"You have seen our numbers in the March quarter when our sales grew 40 percent. The first two months of June quarter have been better than previous three months. "And I hope this momentum continues going forward," Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director and CEO Eberhard Kern said. Talking to a select group of reporters after rolling out its sixth model, GLA Class of entry-level SUVs, from the Pune plant over the weekend, Kern said he "sees the luxury car sales touching 40,000 units this year.
Merc also formally commissioned the third assembly line at Chakan near Pune, taking its installed capacity to 20,000 units a year from 10,000 units. After five years, Mercedes regained the top slot, beating Audi in the March quarter, selling 3,566 units with a growth of 40 percent year-on-year, while Audi sold only 3,181 units, up 10 percent. For the financial year 2015, however, Audi remained the top luxe brand though its lead over Mercedes narrowed to 79 units.
In FY15, Audi sold 11,292 units, up 11.51 percent over FY14, while Merc sold 11,213 units, up 17.5 percent. BMW, which lost its No 1 position to Audi in 2012, has reportedly sold around 7,000 units in the past fiscal. The company has not been reporting its numbers for some time now. Kern also said Merc will have around 83 sales outlet by December, by when it will also have completed 15 launches.
With the local assembly of the GLA Class, the company has increased its localisation to 60 percent, which is also the largest in the luxury segment. Kern said within a few months the company will be rolling out the seventh locally made model the entry level CLA Class of sedans. With the new assembly line, the Pune plant also becomes the only such facility under the Mercedes umbrella across the world to have flexible assembly line under which it can roll out all the six models currently assembled locally. For the third assembly line, Merc has invested around Rs 150 crore and hired around 150 people, taking the overall headcount at Merc India to over 1,200.