German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz plans to roll out its entire global sedan and SUV range in India in the next two years, as it continues its aggressive product offensive to take over the crown in the domestic luxury car market from Audi.
The focus will be on compact luxury models, with its new entry SUV 'GLA' and a performance version of entry sedan 'CLA45' expected to be launched in 2014 itself. A third product, the 'GLK' small SUV, will follow in 2015, while the fourth model, the 'CLC' four-door compact sports coupe, will come later.
Eberhard Kern, MD & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, said, “The GLA, which will be launched this March in Germany, will also come to India in 2014. I cannot talk of the CLA launch date, but we will first launch the performance version CLA45 AMG to stress on the sportiness of the car with the target group of young buyers. The CLA will have a very important role in our future set-up”.
He added, “With the launch of the GLK by 2016, we will fill the only remaining gap in our sedan and SUV range. This will be in between the GLA and the ML-Class mid-size SUV. If we do our job right, the numbers will come in by themselves”.
Mercedes' product offensive for India started around mid-2013, after which the company has rolled out around five new products in quick succession to boost volumes. Launched last year, the A and B-Class have together brought down the entry price of the Mercedes range to around Rs 22 lakh, while the new S-Class flagship sedan, new E-Class sedan and the new GL-Class full size SUV have helped secured its position in the top-end of the market.
To cater to the expanded model range, Mercedes has also doubled production capacity to 20,000 units. In total, its investments in India stand at Rs 850 crore. “We will add additional models for assembly in India. Currently, we assemble the S, E, C-Class sedans and the GL and ML-Class SUVs in India,” Kern said.
While overall passenger vehicle sales remained flat in 2013, the domestic luxury car market grew around 20% to 34,000 units. Mercedes has seen a growth of 32% to 9,003 units in the same year and is the second-largest player followed by BMW.