Mercedes-Benz has just launched the new GL-Class, their new SUV that will compete with the Q7 and X5. The company has been expanding its dealership network and the company has recently inaugurated a new dealership in Noida. On this moment, we speak to the Mr Eberhard Kern, Managing Director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India to find out the future plans of the Stuttgart-based automotive manufacturer for India.
1) Congratulations on the launch of the GL-Class. How many new products will the company launch this year? Audi claims to get a new product after every 4-6 weeks?
Our market competition is flooding the market with products to catch up with the number of Mercedes-Benz cars on the road. All I can say is that in 2 weeks the new A-Class, that has been trending digitally, will be officially launched, following which the highly anticipated B-class Diesel will be launched for our customers that love to be on the move and require adequate space for luggage. Other cars expected this year are the E-class facelift and the new S-Class that was globally launched to the media yesterday in Germany.
2) The company just opened a new dealership in Noida, how many more will we see for this year?
Currently there are 57 dealerships in India. Next week Boris and I are going to Bengaluru to inaugurate our biggest showroom on one floor where 60 cars can be on display. We are hopeful that by the end of this year we should have 10 more dealerships in our network.
3) What is the response the company has received on the Performance Drive?
The feedback received has been phenomenal. This is our 4th year doing the performance drive and last three years we have got a total of 7500 registrations, this year itself we are reaching 8000 registrations. People are really interested in experiencing the power of Mercedes-Benz on the track. The young drivers, between the ages of 16-25, we have received more than 2000 registrations for that. Over-all I think the Performance Drive is a successful program.
4) Till when will the plant in Chakan be ready to produce 20,000 units?
As you know that we have recently inaugurated the paint booth in Chakan. This has allowed us to double our numbers in that department. As for production, the plant is going under expansion and we aim for doubling our production numbers by the end of this year, latest by next year. From September of this year, our Chakan plant will be the only of the factory in the world apart from our American factory to have production of the newly launched GL-class.
5) Will the CLA be placed above C-Class, at par or below?
It is too early to say that at this moment. The CLA comes in the category of the A-class, B-class and the newly reviled GLA-concept. Those cars are a different segment. close to compact luxury. The C-class, E-class, S-class, ML-class and the GL-class are moving in a different direction. As of now I cannot comment on the pricing of the car for the Indian market.