Mercedes-Benz is betting big on the new-generation C-class sedan to help drive the healthy double-digit growth momentum it has achieved in the recent past.
The firm, which will very soon stop the production of the existing C-class sedans, is currently rolling out almost the last batches of the said model at its Chakan facility.
Company officials maintained that the inventory of the C-class sedans will cater to the existing demand (bookings across dealerships) over the coming months, including the festive season.
However, the production of this popular sedan will be restored at the Chakan facility in 2015, when the company plans to introduce the new generation of the C-class luxury sedan.
Talking exclusively to Autocar Professional on the sidelines of the launch of the E 350 CDI model at the Chakan plant, Eberhard Kern, managing director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India (MBIL), said: “All our locally built models, across the E-class, C-class, S-class, GL-class and M-class cars fetch good sales for us. The E-class sedans are leading the pack. We are going to stop the production of the C-class here because the new generation C-class is slated to come next year and would be very important for us. We are also looking forward to begin the local production of the GLA (September 2014) and the CLA (early 2015).”
It is to be noted that this German luxury car maker’s India sales stood at 9,003 units during CY2013, marking a growth of 32 percent over 6,840 units sold in CY2012. Further, during the January -June 2014 period, MBIL has sold 4,717 units, which according to the company data marks a 25 percent year-on-year growth.
While company officials will look forward to the orders for the new E350 CDI sedan and the upcoming entry level luxury SUV GLA (launch slated for September 30) to generate the sales for the festive season, it is clear that MBIL plans to drive its growth momentum in 2015 on the back of the new-generation C-class sedan, along with the four-door CLA coupe and other popular models.
In the context of the A- and B-class CBUs, Kern revealed that “these models are the pioneers of the luxury compact hatchback segment in India. August 2014 was the best month in terms of sales for the A-Class since its launch here. One out of every fourth-fifth model sold is a hatchback for us.” The official, however, refused to comment on the CKD plans for these models.
Interestingly, the company’s Chakan plant operates in two shifts and has an annual production capacity of 10,000 units, which is expected to be near-100 percent utilised for CY2014.
MBIL is also focussing on catering to the demand of the S-class sedans, for which the order book is full till December 2014. “We have increased the allocations for the S-class cars, which along with the GL-class have a current waiting period of up to four months. The buyers of the ML SUVs have to wait for two months,” added the MBIL boss. Nearly 80 percent of all Mercedes cars sold in India are diesel.