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‘We see the Indian EV market growing in the years to come’

| Updated on January 16, 2020 Published on January 16, 2020

Martin Schwenk, Managing Director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India

Mercedes-Benz India is upbeat on its electric prospects

Mercedes-Benz India wrapped up 2019 as the luxury car market leader for the fifth consecutive year. Its boss Martin Schwenk unveiled the motto for this year, ‘Restless for Tomorrow’, where one of the cars he is betting on to make a mark is the new EQC. This is a pure electric, and the first from its EQ division. Schwenk spoke to BusinessLine on the sidelines of the brand unveil. Excerpts:

With the launch of the EQ brand in India, will we also see a parallel development of infrastructure in terms of an independent division, marketing organisation etc?

We have set up a dedicated team at Mercedes-Benz India for the EQ brand. The team is driving for a holistic approach towards developing the overall EV ecosystem. The brand EQ will also witness creation and later ramp-up of sales and service network across geographies. There will be dedicated teams for the EQ brand and customers. The brand will be integrated and use the existing, widespread infrastructure in the network (i.e. sales and service outlets).

With nearly zero public infrastructure in place for EVs, how will MB India help customers own and operate its EQ cars?

MB India is in the Indian market for 25 years and one of our strengths is our customer trust and loyalty earned over decades. Our buyers are demanding but also well aware of the status of the charging infrastructure in the country.

The Centre recently announced its initiative to cover locations under the EV vision and we are hoping that this becomes a reality over time. Our EQ cars will have long range and we will also provide home charging solutions for our customers.

We are developing and sensitising our dealer network to take care of the entire customer services. We are also in the process of working out the EV ownership concept that will enable a customer experience unrestricted by the textbook limitations of an EV.

Do you see the possibility of MB India assembling EVs in India?

MB India has the breadth in its manufacturing facility and the capability to adopt new technologies such as EVs into its production ecosystem. Localisation of EVs will be evaluated as part of our overall strategy for the future.

How price sensitive are EV buyers in other markets? Do you believe Indian customers will be different in terms of outlook and expectations?

Worldwide, EVs are more expensive than conventional ICE vehicles. Consumers across the world have different reasons for purchasing EVs other than being influenced just by price sensitivity. They could be, for instance, early adopters who like to showcase new technology, or their sensitivity towards the environment, etc.

And, on the other side, there are buyers who take the plunge only when the product has been commoditised. Customers of luxury products have a higher inclination towards experimenting with newer technologies and concepts.

Our pricing will be competitive and when considering the on-road price to the customers, it will fit into our line-up in terms of its positioning. Indian buyers will also show similar traits and we therefore see the EV market growing in the years to come.

What are MB India’s plans for 2020 in terms of network expansion, overall product plans and market outlook?

We have a very exciting year ahead of us, where the mantra is ‘Restless for Tomorrow’. We have lined up more than 10 new products for our customers. There will be a very strong SUV offensive beginning with the new GLE, to be launched later this month.

We are confident our restless initiatives will help us further with our customer-centric initiatives. We will also be expanding our network presence to 100 outlets very soon.

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Published on January 16, 2020
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