Mercedes hatchback sees robust demand

Eberhard Kern at the launch of Mercedez Benz A Class Mercedes-Benz India might give strong competition to reigning luxury car market leader Audi, owing to robust demand for its newly launched compact car A-Class.

The German automobile maker claimed to have received about 400 confirmed bookings for the A-Class, launched only 10 days ago.

The encouraging numbers come at a time when the automobile market is staring at weak retail demand and an uncertain outlook.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class was launched on May 30, at an introductory price of Rs 21,93,500 (ex-showroom, Mumbai). It is among the most expensive compact luxury cars in India.

Eberhard Kern, managing director and chief executive, Mercedes-Benz India, said, “The overwhelming success of the A-Class inspires us to push ahead even more aggressively with our new generation cars for the Indian market.”

In the company’s decade-and-a-half-long history in India, this is the highest popularity any Mercedes-Benz model has seen. Last year, the company had launched its cheapest offering in India, the B-Class. With the launch of the A-Class, most Mercedes-Benz’s international products are available in India.

Mercedes is targeting double-digit growth in sales this year, compared to last year’s sales of 7,138 units. The company is investing Rs 250 crore on raising capacity at its Pune plant from 10,000 to 20,000 units.

Among the three luxury brands — Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz — Mercedes was the first to set up local assembly operations in India, followed by BMW and Audi. The company was the market leader for several years, before BMW overtook it a few years ago. Later, Audi dethroned BMW to top the list of car makers accounting for the highest luxury car sales in India.

BMW plans to launch the 1 Series this year. The 1 Series, a four-door compact car, would compete against the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class.