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Luxury car sales at pre-Covid levels but delays persist: Mercedes

By Shine Jacob
September 18, 2021 11:58 IST
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The company said that while the first quarter numbers were at the pre-pandemic levels, it saw a growth of 34 per cent in sales compared to the April to June period of 2020.

IMAGE: Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director and CEO Martin Schwenk at the launch of Mercedes-Benz V-Class Elite in Chennai, November 7, 2019. Photograph: Anantha Krishnan/ANI Photo.

Although sales in the luxury car segment are back at pre-pandemic levels, customers are facing a delay of around 8-16 weeks in select models due to the ongoing container shortage, coupled with the Covid-19 impact, said Martin Schwenk, managing director and chief executive officer of Mercedes Benz India.

 

Schwenk added that the company’s sales during the January to August period of 2021 were higher than calendar year 2020.

“If I look into what happened in August, numbers are basically at pre-pandemic levels. We have had about 11 significant launches this year already. That really helps in generating a lot of customer interest. The mood in the market is definitely getting better,” he said.

The company has a nearly 40 per cent share in the luxury car market in India, while the luxury segment is only around 1 per cent of the total compared to over 10 per cent in the US and 13 per cent in China. The company said that while the first quarter numbers were at the pre-pandemic levels, it saw a growth of 34 per cent in sales compared to the April to June period of 2020.

Similarly, during the first half of the current year, the numbers improved by 65 per cent as against the first half of 2020. The company’s highest selling models in India during the current year are Mercedes-Benz E-Class LWB and the Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV.

He added that the German automaker has been hit by the delay in delivery for select brands due to capacity constraints due to Covid-19, the semiconductor crisis and the ongoing container shortage.

“Our production is relatively stable. Constraints in the container world and air shipments are an issue. We managed it fairly well, except some delays in reaching customers,” Schwenk said. He added that for select models the company is facing a delay of “anywhere between 8 to 16 weeks.”

To avoid import duty and reduce prices, the company was mulling localisation of several high-performing cars and electric vehicles. “We are searching for models that can be built locally. That includes a lot of our current models. We are now expanding our network beyond major cities. We are thinking of a local manufacturing unit but have not finalised the model,” he added.

The models that the company launched during the first six months of 2021 include the new A-Class Limousine, the AMG A35 4Matic, the new E-Class, the all-new GLA and the all-new S-Class.

When asked about the rising interest in electric vehicles in India, Schwenk said, “Customers are more and more interested in sustainability. Still there are hurdles on infrastructure, which is a major concern. It will take years to fully flourish.” Mercedes Benz India was the first company to launch a luxury electric vehicle in India through the launch of the EQC electric SUV last year, this was followed by Jaguar Land Rover's Jaguar I-Pace SUV.

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Shine Jacob in Chennai
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