The ongoing slowdown in the Indian passenger vehicle market has not spared any automaker, from Maruti Suzuki to Mercedes-Benz. The German luxury carmaker, the country’s largest luxury carmaker and the market leader, has announced sales of 6,561 units in the first six months of 2019, down 18.6 percent year on year (January-June 2018: 8,061 units).
According to Mercedes-Benz India, it has "clocked satisfactory sales performance under continuing strong macro-economic challenges that comprises rising interest rates, inflationary hikes, liquidity crunch, rising import costs, all leading to muted customer interest. Despite these factors and challenges, Mercedes-Benz India continues to lead the luxury car market in India, having a comparative higher base."
Commenting on the first-half 2019 sales, Martin Schwenk, managing director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India: “We are glad to maintain the leadership position in the luxury car market by sustaining our sales performance despite facing continuous macro-economic headwinds and a temporary limited availability of volume models. We expect sales to recover gradually from the third quarter, however conditions would continue to remain challenging.”
“We retain our customers’ loyalty and sustain the market leadership by continuing our customer-centric initiatives. As a fundamentally strong brand, Mercedes-Benz continues to remain bullish on the mid- to long-term prospect of the dynamic Indian market,” added Schwenk.
LWB E-Class the favourite buy in India
The volume drivers for Mercedes-Benz India in the January-June 2019 period remained the Long Wheelbase E-Class, while the new C-Class and the GLC SUV also contributed to the sales volume. The AMG and the Dream Cars segment, however, grew the highest by 47 percent and outperformed the other segments in H1 2019.
The German carmaker continues to maintain a significant lead in India's luxury vehicle segment, and ended 2018 as the country's highest-selling luxury carmaker for the fourth consecutive year. It holds around 40 percent market share in the luxury vehicle segment, which is estimated to have sold a little over 40,000 units in India last year.
In calendar year 2018, Mercedes-Benz India sold a record 15,538 units, posting growth of 1.4 percent over the 15,330 units sold in 2017. Growth was led by the long-wheelbase E-class, which remained the highest-selling model for the brand in 2018. The carmaker also witnessed healthy demand for the C-class sedan and the GLC was its highest-selling SUV.
With the festive season of Diwali in October, Mercedes-Benz India is hopeful of a recovery in sales from Q3 2019 onwards. Santosh Iyer, who has taken over as Head of Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz India from July 1, 2019, has his task cut out for him.
Meanwhile, the carmaker is going ahead with its network expansion plans. In line with its strategy to reach out to emerging Tier 2 and 3 cities, on July 18, it inaugurated a new state-of-the-art service facility in Kolhapur, its 94th outlet across 47 cities in India and the 15th service facility in Maharashtra and the 32nd outlet in West India.
Also read: Mercedes-Benz India sells 3,885 units in Q1 2019, down 15%