Monday, January 13, 2014
By Kamal Swami
8 new cars expected from Mercedes Benz, during this year
German luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz plans to launch about eight new products in India this year as part of plans to continue with the double digit growth that it witnessed last year. Apart from new products, the company will expand network presence in smaller cities in different parts of the country. "2013 was the most successful year for Mercedes Benz in India. Our sales grew by 32 per cent in 2013 as compared to previous year. In 2014, we are aiming at double digit growth," Mercedes Benz India Managing Director and CEO Eberhard Kern told PTI. In order to sustain the growth momentum, he said the company will continue to introduce new products in India.
"You can expect a similar number of launches this year as we did in 2013. We have lined up a number of launches in 2014. It's a kind of work in progress," Kern said. The company had launched eight products in 2013. Kern said the company will decide on new launches shortly, including compact sports utility vehicle GLA and sedan CLA Class. Highlighting the importance of the fast growing compact luxury SUV segment, he said: "It is a big and growing segment and today we have portfolio gaps there. By 2015, we will plug most of them." While he did not disclose any timeline, Kern said the next generation compact SUV GLK will also be launched in India, apart from plans for the new generation C-Class sedan, which will be introduced by Mercedes Benz globally in left hand drive markets first this year.
When asked if the company has decided to locally assemble either the A-Class or the B-Class compact cars, Kern said a decision is yet to be taken but the firm is mulling to assemble more models in India. It currently assembles sedans -- C, E, S class; SUVs -- ML and GL models at its manufacturing plant in Pune. Mercedes, which sold a total of 9,003 cars last year, is looking to build on the success of its two compact car models, A Class and B Class, in the current year.
The compact cars contribute around 20 per cent of the company's total sales in the country, Kern said. The company is currently expanding production capacity of the plant to 20,000 units from the present 10,000 units and it will be completed in the next two-and-a-half months. Mercedes is also looking at strengthening the dealer network in tier II and III cities across the country as it works to enhance presence in these regions.
"We are going to add ten more dealerships in 2014. We currently have 61 dealer outlets in the country. Some of the places where we plan to open the dealerships include Bhubaneswar and Bhopal," Kern said.
Tier II and III cities are becoming important, he added. "We currently get 45 per cent of our sales from the metropolitan cities. So, around 55 per cent comes from non metro cities," Kern said. Mercedes, which entered the Indian market in 1995, is all set to have its 50,000th car on the Indian roads later this month.
Source: Economic Times