Starting from April this year, Mercedes Benz India will launch 15 new models in 2021 as it seeks to strengthen its hold in the luxury car market, a top company official said. Riding on new launches and last year’s low base, the luxury car market leader expects to grow 40 per cent in 2021 and 2022, said Martin Schwenk MD and CEO, Mercedes India.
Mercedes is the second luxury carmaker, after Audi, that is set to embark on an aggressive model launch programme in the new calendar year. The Volkswagen Group company has lined up a dozen new models for various segments it said on January 4. The roll-outs come on back of a year that was marked by an unprecedented fall in sales for luxury carmakers as the Covid-19 pandemic battered the economy and sapped the purchasing power. Sales of such models (those priced above Rs 20 lakh) are estimated to have registered the sharpest fall in many years in 2020.
“This will be the highest number of models we have ever launched in India in a single year and will include facelifts of existing models and completely new models. We expect a strong recovery in the next two years and a 40 per cent year-on-year (YoY) growth in each year,” Schwenk told Business Standard. His confidence stems from a month-on-month recovery which kicked in from September on improving macroeconomic indicators.
The local arm of the German luxury carmaker saw its sales annual sales fall 40 per cent to 7983 units in 202o as the pandemic weighed on sentiments. Driven by the availability of new products, a strong festive season and an overall positive customer sentiment, sales recovered in the last quarter of the calendar year to 2886 units from 2058 units in the preceding quarter.
Though, Schwenk wouldn’t divulge details on the upcoming launches, he said this year will be a year of sedans for Mercedes unlike the last couple of years when the focus was on SUVs. Company’s SUV portfolio comprises of the GLC, GLE and the GLS. The models maintained their momentum, with the GLC being the most popular SUV in the portfolio. Even the GLE and GLS witnessed strong customer traction.
Meanwhile commenting on expectations from the budget, he said besides focusing on the infrastructure development and announcing measures that can stimulate demand, the government should strive to open the markets and harmonize standards. “It cannot be a one-way street,” said Schwenk alluding to the need for reducing tariffs and facilitate trade dialogues. His remarks come against the backdrop of India increasing import duties on various goods in its pursuit to become Atmanirbhar.
The Three-Pointed Star also unveiled its 2021 motto coined as ‘Reimagining Excellence’, which aims at making the brand more desirable and drawing customers closer. It aims to reinforce the motto by creating a personalized ‘physidigital experience’ and offering a highly differentiated and best-in-class retail experience. The company is encouraged by the response it got of the digital initiative it launched last year and will accelerate those efforts this yea, said Schwenk. Close to14 per cent of its total sales came from the online platform.