Mercedes Benz India launch plans for the Indian luxury car market include C Class and E Class diesel variants over the next two years. Mercedes look forward to develop a smaller diesel engine than the current 2,500 cc diesel engine for the C Class and E Class. The move would ensure that the company takes on comparable models from BMW and Audi that run on 2,000 cc diesel engines, and in turn, this would boost sales.
Managing Director, and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, Peter Honegg had this to say. “We have to think about basic versions with smaller diesel engines for the Indian market. They will help us get the prices down with lesser gadgets on offer. However, at the end of the day, customers are going to only move up the ladder.” “We expect the size of the luxury car market to grow ten-fold to 200,000 cars in the next ten years.”
The situation can be better understood if one puts BMW sales strategy for the Indian car market in perspective. BMW India sells ‘corporate edition’ diesel variants fitted with a 2,000 cc diesel engine. This includes the 320d and 520d which contribute towards almost half the sales raked in by their three series and five series as per dealer feedback. The 2,000 cc diesel engine variants in the three series and five series are fitted with lesser equipment, offer lesser displacement, and are stripped down versions of the standard BMW three series and five series models.
Mercedes-Benz India will be launching the company’s smallest SUV, the GLK-Class SUV in the next 18 months, and will be in competition with the BMW X3 and Audi Q3. The BMW X1 will go uncontended as Mercedes Benz doesn’t have a smaller SUV platform. In 2010, Mercedes Benz India sold 5,819 cars, and hopes to better sales figures by 30-50% in 2011. Q1 and Q2 sales for Mercedes Benz in the Indian car market accounted for 2,402 cars, which marks an 80% sales growth for the corresponding period in 2010. The new development would certainly add an angle to the competition between the German triad that rule the Indian luxury car segment.