Martin Schwenk’s contract as Managing Director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India has been extended in a clear indication that the German luxury carmaker is keen on maintaining a sense of continuity in one of its more important global markets.
In the process, Schwenk now becomes the second MD after Wilfried Aulbur who was the India head for nearly five years. Schwenk came on board in November 2018 (following Roland Folger) and has kept the momentum going on to ensure Mercedes maintains its lead in India's luxury car space. He has also pushed for digital initiatives aggressively in what is now rapidly emerging as the phygital model where the physical visits to showrooms will also continue.
The news of Schwenk’s extension comes at a time when Daimler worldwide has decided to split its truck and car businesses. Mercedes-Benz will now continue to focus on the luxury space aggressively as articulated by its global CEO, Ola Kallenius. India is clearly perceived as a market with tremendous potential even while its volumes are small compared to China.
Strong numbers since Q4 CY2020
Mercedes-Benz India, the luxury car market leader, reported sales of 7,893 cars in CY2020, a year which was largely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns across the country. CY2020 sales were down 42.74 percent year on year (CY2019: 13,786).
The company, however, made a strong comeback in sales after the initial setback in Q2 (563 units), and registered a growth of 40% in Q4 (2886 units) compared to the preceding quarter (Q3: 2,058 units). The Q4 sales performance continued the sales recovery witnessed since Q3 2020, buoyed by availability of new products, strong festive season and an overall positive customer sentiment, influenced by the gradual unlocking of the markets and stabilisation of businesses.
Key sales drivers were the sedans, the SUVs and the Mercedes-AMG cars. The Long Wheelbase E-Class sedan continues its sales success across markets and was the single highest selling model for the brand in January-December 2020 period. The SUVs comprising the GLC, GLE and the GLS maintained their momentum, with the GLC remaining the most popular SUV in the portfolio. The GLE and GLS witnessed strong customer traction. Fourteen percent of Mercedes-Benz’s sales penetration in 2020 was through online bookings
Fifteen products for 2021
Mercedes-Benz India has earmarked a 15-product launch in 2021, comprising a mix of models across body shapes, some without any predecessor in the Indian market. Starting Q2, the all-new A-Class Limousine, New GLA, AMG GT Black Series are some of the most promising products lined up for a 2021 debut.