Mercedes eyes 40% growth; to launch 15 new models

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on January 14, 2021

India’s largest luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz is eyeing a 40 per cent year-on-year growth in 2021 and 2022, on the back of 15 new products it plans to launch in the country this year. These new launches will have a strong focus on localisation, in keeping with the ₹400 crore investment that the company has committed, a top company official said.

This is even as Mercedes-Benz India sold 7,893 cars in India in 2020, compared to 13,700 in 2019, marking a decline of around 42 per cent amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We sold 40 per cent more cars in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to the third quarter. We have seen that the momentum is there. So, demand is coming back...That gives me a clear understanding that the market is big, and we can expect a healthy comeback in 2021,” Martin Schwenk, Managing Director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, told BusinessLine in an interview. He identified factors such as the availability of new products, a strong festive season and an overall positive customer sentiment for the sales momentum in the last quarter. Mercedes-Benz India sold 563 units in Q2, 2,058 units in Q3, and 2,886 units in Q4.

Product line-up

While the new products slated for this year will include facelift models, there will be a substantial number of new models too, including cars that will be brought to India for the first time, said Schwenk. Starting Q2, the all-new A-Class Limousine, the new GLA, AMG GT Black Series are some of the products lined up for a 2021 debut.

Despite the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, the company had gone ahead with its strategy of launching 10 new cars in 2020. Apart from continuing with a strong product strategy, it will also focus on digitisation and an integration of its physical and online sales. Around 15 per cent of its sales in 2020 accrued from online channels and there is potential for this to go up further, said Schwenk. Its used-cars business will be another focus area in 2021, he added.

Mercedes-Benz had introduced the first luxury electric vehicle in India, the EQC, last year.

Luxury EV foray

“We have seen a very good response to the EQC — it has created a lot of customer interest. The EQC was also meant for us to see how we can develop the EV segment (in India), what the market reaction is, and also how the framework is developing...We still believe there is some activity necessary in terms of infrastructure and so forth. But overall, I think we will continue on our path and we will assess, based on our EQC experience, how we can take our strategy forward,” said Schwenk.

Mercedes-Benz also has plans to have 10 electric cars globally by 2020, he said. The company will take a call on what models to bring to India on the basis of the learnings from the EQC and on the basis of how the market is developing, he added.

On his outlook for the luxury car market in general — which saw an around 40 per cent decline in sales in 2020 — Schwenk said that a double-digit growth can be expected this year.

Published on January 13, 2021

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