New Delhi: German premium carmaker Mercedes-Benz on Thursday rolled out the new locally-produced S-Class from its Chakan facility in Pune at a price starting from Rs 1.57 crore.
The company had launched the imported (completely built unit) version of its new generation flagship Sedan S class at a starting price of Rs 2.17 crore in June this year.
Mercedes-Benz India has retailed more than 8,250 units of the S-Class to the Indian customers, as per the company. Mercedes-Benz said that with the improving situation of the pandemic and increased push for vaccination, the economy will further be stable and the businesses will get back to the pre-pandemic level, and that it continues to have a positive 'sales' outlook for the upcoming quarter.
The carmaker had on Wednesday posted one of its strongest quarterly performances, almost doubling its sales to 4,101 units in July-September period this year over Q3CY20. Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director Martin Schwenk, however, said the supply chain related challenges may impact the volumes in December quarter.
"Overall, the stress on the global supply situation is quite significant. Having said that, I think we are still happy with the situation here in India for us, because, at least on the semiconductor side, we have had supply for the cars we build and to some extent could mitigate that. But it's true, one of our highest order banks, and that also causes customer waiting periods, anywhere between four to 16 weeks, in some cases even longer, which is quite unfortunate, and definitely not something we want to have. But it's attributed to the overall global shortage and distress in the supply chain,” Schwenk told PTI.
He said that higher import duty and, to some extent, high GST rates as well as cess makes an imported luxury car expensive and, therefore makes it difficult for a customer to purchase one.
“At the same time, it pushes them obviously against our own profitability. So we have many markets which are much more profitable than India. And that essentially means also in terms of availability of vehicles, we might not always have priority, because our cars are not as profitable as they are in other markets for the manufacturer,” he said.
“But the biggest challenge is that we cannot grow the market as we would want to have it and then it also limits us in further localisation and domestic production of vehicles. Because we need a reasonable and sizeable domestic market to develop and to produce our cars here domestically. So that's one of the issues we are seeing,” Schwenk stated.
Pointing out that the situation is unlikely to change, he said, “what we are doing is we work with the framework and we work with very attractive products and localise to the level that is viable. And we try to offset this by having a big network in almost 50 cities having a presence so we try to offset some of the disadvantages.”
Mercedes-Benz India, currently has 13 locally produced models, and it does not have a plan to increase that substantially at this stage.
"With new products to come, we will then introduce these cars. But at present our footprint of the 13 domestically produced models will remain at least for the near future,” he added. With an overwhelming response to the CBU launch edition of the S-Class, Mercedes-Benz is offering Indian customers the locally manufactured version, catering to the heightened demand for the flagship, the company said at the launch.
The new S-Class is available in two variants -- S 350 d, which is priced at Rs 1.57 crore and S 450 4MATIC at Rs 1.62 crore.
“The situation has massively improved. And I really believe we have the worst behind us and with the improving pandemic situation and a strong push to vaccination, I really think the economy will further be stable,” Schwenk stated.
The road to recovery has been a really swift one compared to the bumpy ride the company had last year, he said, adding, “we have seen a strong rebound and a V-shaped recovery. In the month from June onwards, the sales have steadily grown.”
“Customer sentiments are already bullish. We have introduced 11 new products to the market so far during this year which have played a key role in exciting customers.
"The Class didn't continue to remain the highest selling product for us. The GLC follows the Class closely, remaining the highest selling SUV in the portfolio. Similarly, we have also seen a strong demand for the newly launched GLA GLA and GLS SUVs, all of which remain in this waiting period,” he said.
"We are in particular overwhelmed with the tremendous response to the New Generation S-Class and to cater to the increased demand, we are now commencing the local production ahead of our planning. We are confident the locally made S-Class will continue to retain its high loyalty from our discerning customers in India," Schwenk said.