Luxury automobile sector recovering, says Mercedes CEO

Mr. Martin Schwenk, MD and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India along with Mr. Arun Surendra, Managing Director, VST Titanium Motors at the launch of the new V-Class Elite in Chennai on Thursday

Affected by the slowdown in the automobile industry like any other player, luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz on Thursday said the sales numbers for the month of October were “promising” which is a “sign of recovery” for the crucial sector.

The automobile major said it has sold 10,000-odd cars till October 2019 as against 11,900-odd cars sold in the same period last year – the company also sold 800 cars during the 2019 festive season.

“The slowdown did impact us. The slowdown affected the luxury segment too. It started in the month of August, but the October numbers are promising. I think the recovery has started and we have another six to eight weeks of sales to go this calendar year,” Martin Schwenk, Managing Director & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India told a select group of journalists here.

As far as the calendar year of 2019 is concerned, Schwenk said the company was on the “right track” in the fourth quarter and is quite positive about the sales in the next few weeks and months.

The top executive was speaking after launching V-Class Elite, the advanced version of the V-Class MPV that the company introduced in early 2019. The new car, which will cost Rs 1.10 crore ex-showroom price, is an upgraded version of the V-Class that combines functionality with utmost luxury, comfort and “uncompromised safety.”

Luxury seats with massage, climate control functions, central console with refrigerated compartment and a 360-degree camera with Active Park Assist are some of the special features of the car, which can zip from zero to 100 kms in just 11.1 seconds.

The V-Class Elite which is powered by an OM-654 engine which is 17 per cent lighter than its predecessor will be available in seven colours across India. On future plans of Mercedes-Benz, Schwenk said the company is mulling launching the new generation GLE model much before the 2020 Auto Expo begins in New Delhi in February.

“The launch by Mercedes-Benz will completely change the game in the luxury market. We have planned an extensive product offensive for the country,” Schwenk said, adding that the company is also into expanding its dealership network across the country.

On electric vehicles, the top executive of Mercedes-Benz said the company has no plans to launch such vehicles in the Indian market soon but has planned around 10 models to be released by 2022 in the global arena. On compliance of BS-VI, Schwenk said the Mercedes-Benz plant will begin producing the vehicles complying to the standards from January 2020.

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