Daimler may not showcase `S-Class' at auto expo

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The S Class car
The S Class car

Our Bureau

Pune, Dec. 18

LUXURY carmaker DaimlerChrysler is unlikely to present its new S-Class at the auto expo in January. Instead, the car manufacturer will woo CEOs and high-net worth potential clients to come, have a look at the latest S class, which debuted at the Frankfurt motor show in September this year, and its new M-class cars, at a series of road shows being organised in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai from January.

"Our clients complain that they cannot focus on the car and touch or feel the machines at the auto expo because of the crowd. Also, it makes very little sense to spend our entire year's promo budget in just 15 days. The auto expo is an expensive business," a senior DaimlerChrysler official told Business Line.

The new S-350 and the M-350, meanwhile, are expected to roll onto Indian roads almost immediately after they are showcased in the road shows and the company is also gearing up for a foray into the commercial vehicles business.

Meanwhile, DaimlerChrysler India will have a new CEO and Managing Director with current incumbent, Mr Hans-Michael Huber, moving out after a four-year stint, to take up a new assignment as head of one of the company's retail sales operations in Germany. Mr Huber's stint saw the company stabilise its operations and set out on the path of achieving operating profits. "We are slowly on the way to wiping out our accumulated losses," Mr Huber said. "Indian customers are very demanding. I take back from India a valuable lesson which will help me in my retail assignment." The new CEO and Managing Director, Mr Wilfried Aulbur, has been involved closely with the group and has also put in a two-year stint heading the Business Development and Strategy function at the DaimlerChrysler Research Center, Bangalore. "We are set upon the path of strong and profitable growth for the company and I intend to build upon that with focus on sales opportunities, increasing the standards of service support and further improving time-to-market for product introductions in India," Mr Aulbur said, outlining his key areas for the next few years.

Mr Aulbur, who has put in a stint with the company's China operations, is convinced that India is well on the way to being one of the emerging markets. "The economy is booming and people are willing to spend on luxuries. "In fact, India has been a steadily growing market for us and for me it is not China or India but Chindia," he said.

The company has sold a total of 1,767 cars till November this year and expects to close the year with a little over last year's 1815 units. Its component exports will cross the 100-million-euro mark in 2005, Mr Aulbur added.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 19, 2005)
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