Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mercedes-Benz optimistic about Indian market

Luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz is hopeful of achieving good sales growth in India in the coming months despite stiff competition from rivals like BMW and Audi.

"Last year we led India's luxury car segment with a 46 percent market share. This year Mercedes is somewhat behind BMW, but we are hopeful of gaining momentum in the coming days," Wilfried Aulbur, managing director and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz India, told reporters here Saturday.

In 2008, the company sold 3,625 cars in India, 46 percent up from the 2,491 vehicles it sold the year before.

"Now we are facing stiff competition from various luxury cars like Jaguar, Audi and BMW," Aulbur said on the sidelines of the launch of the new Mercedes E-Class here.

Mercedes also opened its third dealership in the region here Saturday. The other two are in Chandigarh and in Ludhiana.

Aulbur said Mercedes had achieved "phenomenal growth" in the last few years.

"Mercedes has registered an organic growth in the last eight years and I must say that in the last two-three years, the response was really whopping," Aulbur pointed out.

From 2005 to 2008, Mercedes' sales in India have almost doubled, he added.

According to Aulbur, Punjab is a "very vibrant" place, where many rich people stay. "Seeing their response and increasing demand, we have come up with our third dealership in the region."

According to official figures, Mercedes sales in Punjab rose 48 percent to 300 in 2008 from 202 cars in 2007.

In 2009, the company has sold over 600 cars in the state till September.

"We spend a substantial sum on our R&D. After Germany, we have our largest R&D centre in Bangalore," Aulbur said.

"We are focusing all our attention on our manufacturing unit in Pune that is fulfilling our countrywide demand. Recently we had invested Rs.250 crore in this plant."
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