Mercedes-Benz India is planning to focus on sports-utility vehicles (SUV) to maintain its growth momentum.
The company, which registered a 21 per cent growth in sales at 13,589 units in 2015-16, had the largest share in the luxury car segment and is betting big on SUVs to bolster its position. “Our NGCCs (new-generation compact cars) were the volume driver last year. This year, it’s going to be our SUVs. We have a phenomenal line-up with two more to come this year,” managing director and CEO Roland Folger said.
Mercedes has renamed its SUV line-up, starting with the G Wagon, available as a completely built unit; the GL, which replaces the M-Class; the GLA, the smallest SUV, and the GLE. The GLS and the GLC will also be introduced this year.
“We expect the GLC to be a game-changer. It is going to be positioned between the GLA and the GLE. We are expecting it be the volume driver among our SUVs,” Folger said. The company has launched the GLE Coupe this year.
The S Cabriolet is expected to be the best-looking roadster from the Mercedes stable.
Of the 12 models expected this year, the company has already launched the GLE Coupe, the Maybach Guard, the S400. The other three new models are the GLS, the GLC and the S Cabriolet. The remaining models will be facelifts of the existing range, a company spokesperson said.
The company has already started reaping the benefits of refurbishing its SUV range, which witnessed a 100 per cent growth in the segment in 2014-15. “The traditional mindset was for the three box design, the sedan, which were preferred by the business people. Then came the station wagons and the mini vans. But the current rage is the SUV,” he said.
Talking about the recently launched GLE Coupe, he said, “The car has the design of an E-Class but the sportiness of an SUV. A lot of people value the choice of owning a car that looks different but has the practicality of an SUV.”
On the growth of the luxury market, Folger said, “India has the potential of significant growth. If the Indian automobile market is going to be 3 million vehicles sometime in the immediate future, the luxury market size should be 5-7 per cent of that, which would be 2 lakh vehicles. However, it might take a generation or two to reach this figure.”
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