Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW India: War of the German triad

While the German triad of Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW has been vying for top spot in the Indian luxury car market, some moves by these top carmakers are hard to miss. While the number war is top on everyone’s list, the strategy to be ‘the luxury carmaker’ may just have been revised in some quarters. While most think its small cars by the top luxury carmakers that’ll pack in a real punch, it still seems like a plan of action on the anvil, yet to be struck as there is no clear statement regarding a time and date for the introduction of small cars by the top three.

Suddenly, it seems so clear and numbers don’t mean anything, if that’s what you could believe. Mercedes Benz India, Director of sales & marketing, Debashis Mitra, had this to say. “Competition has a product above Rs. 20 lakh, we are not competing in that segment. We are a luxury carmaker and are not into volumes.” In a quick turn of events, Mercedes-Benz took a complete u-turn this week by launching the CLS coupe for a price of Rs. 67.67 lakhs. The focus seems to be changing and top-end cars Mercedes Benz luxury cars are back in the limelight again. At the start of this month, Mercedes Benz launched the new C class for a price hovering around the Rs. 30 lakh mark.

Two years ago BMW India toppled Mercedes Benz from their top spot in luxury car sales. This year BMW looks confident with the X1 SUV. With a price of Rs. 26 lakh, the vehicle has been bringing in volumes and accounts for 30% of the company’s sales in the Indian luxury car market. BMW India has turned to localization and has gone on to tweak production by sourcing more local content to reduce production cost. President of BMW India, Andreas Scaaf had this to say. “We are confident. We will emerge as the number 1 car maker in India. We have aligned our production to even suit the new duty structure.”

There has been talk about Mercedes Benz bringing less expensive luxury vehicle to the Indian car market. However, there is no clarity regarding the A class and B class for India because duty structure may not make such a move financially feasible. In the meantime, Audi India went on to launch the new Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro for Rs. 3,513,000 (ex-showroom Maharashtra) on 23rd September, 2011. The luxury SUV will be available from October 2011 and works towards bettering their luxury SUV market segment in India. Two days later, BMW India launched the X-Drive20d for a price of Rs 41.2 lakhs and the X-Drive30d for price of Rs 47.9 lakhs. Both prices will be applicable across India.