Mercedes India MD Wilfried Aulbur resigns to pursue new dreams

Industry sources said Aulbur, who will complete five years as the India Head of the German car-maker by the end of 2010, is likely to move out of the automobile sector.

"With the construction of the new factory and several additional projects close to approval, Aulbur has decided to accept a new challenge outside of the Daimler group within India," the company said in a statement.

"Aulbur will remain with Mercedes-Benz India till a successor is identified to ensure a smooth transition," it added.

The company started assembling its vehicles within the country at a facility in Chakan, Maharashtra, in January, 2009. The facility has the capacity to produce 5,000 cars and 1,200 commercial vehicles, mainly Actros range trucks, every year.

"During his tenure, Mercedes-Benz established its presence in the truck and the bus business and significantly expanded its research and sourcing operations in India," the statement said.

Industry sources said Aulbur resigned two days ago and will completely move out of the automobile sector, though he will remain in India.

"After staying five years in India, he is in love with the country. He has, in fact, married Rekha Srinivasan -- an Indian woman. He will most probably stay here forever," a source close to the development said.

A German by birth, Aulbur did his doctoral and post- doctoral studies in physics in the US. For a short period, he was with Mercedes-Benz India in the early 80s. Later, in 2005, he joined the company again as India Head.

"Usually, Mercedes appoints the India Head for 2-3 years. Albur has already got one extension to stay in for five years and he is unlikely to get another," the source said.

After being the numero-uno luxury car-maker in India for years, Mercedes-Benz lost its leadership position to rival BMW in 2009 and reported a decline of 10.43 per cent in sales in the country last year.

However, making a strong comeback, the company has beaten compatriot BMW this year to regain the top position in the luxury car segment. For the January-August period, Mercedes- Benz's sales increased by a whopping 84.15 per cent to 3,497 units from 1,899 units in the same period last year.

The company reported its highest-ever monthly sales of 573 units in August, an over two-fold jump compared to the year-ago period.

"Over these years, the company has grown aggressively and Mercedes-Benz has successfully managed to harness the potential in the luxury car segment," the statement said.

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