According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the sales of passenger cars were down 23.8 percent, while production dropped 28.1 percent when compared to the same period last year. This is perhaps the biggest drop in sales since December 2000, when car sales had fallen close to 40 percent. Sales fell to 138,521 vehicles last month, down from 181,704 units a year earlier. The meteoric rise in fuel prices and disparity between petrol and diesel prices have made the buyers buckle under the trend. However, while passenger car sales numbers might have dipped, long-term growth is beyond any doubt. Mercedes-Benz India knows the pulse of the Indian consumers, their priorities and aspirations to gauge the scenario and is well prepared for the future. We are investing more in R&D to innovate and usher new technological advancement. It is our aim to always delight customers with new products.
During 2010, we had 22 launches in India and in 2011 we launched the Maybach 57and 62 S, G 55 AMG, SL 350, GL 500, SLK 350, new C-class, and the new CLS 350 in India. Every market that we have been present across continents offers us unique market dynamics and newer perspectives. We have grown immensely as a brand while understanding various customer needs and preferences. The social milieu of every country varies in its culture and demographics. India is certainly a unique market and has great vivacity, not only in terms of its immense diversity and needs, but also in terms of evolving customer profile and demand.
The economy is growing and with a number of opportunities proliferating here, there is immense potential for the consumption base to evolve and expand. Additionally, the mindset of the Indian consumers is gradually shifting with the focus moving from price to quality.
Demand is also driven by the young pack of ambitious entrepreneurs and executives who are now cushioned with dispensable income to indulge in buying luxury products. With the consistent growth rate of 8-9 percent for the last five years, the disposable income of Indians has been growing in an impressive manner. This change in perspective is helping drive the growth of the luxury car market in India. Even though the market size is about 25,000 units a year, the appetite of owning a luxury vehicle in India has grown in the last few years. Not just metropolitan cities but also the Tier II and III cities, which have now emerged as burgeoning markets due to high disposable incomes, which assures us about the market’s potential.
While Mercedes-Benz India has the densest network among all luxury carmakers in India, we still need to be closer to where the customers are. Hence, we have been enhancing our market reach through the ‘Hub and Spoke’ concept. The main dealership acts as a regional hub and we create spokes in the form of ‘Authorised Service Centers’ around them. We have recently opened state-of-the-art dealerships in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Ludhiana and in Mumbai.
Mercedes-Benz India firmly believes that we need to be present where the customer is. As such, we have began to charter into newer territories of customer connection modes in India with our Star Lounge at T3 Terminal, New Delhi. We have an association with Saffronart through which our wealth of innovation in the creation of automobiles has merged with the unique and imaginative world of art and culture. Mercedes-Benz India’s association with Buddh International Circuit as the Official Automobile Partner is not only a great boost for JPSI but also MBIL. With the inauguration of the Performance Driving Academy, Mercedes-Benz wishes to make motorsports popular and give a fillip to budding racing champions. Through such distinct endeavours we will challenge the slowdown and will continue to shape the future of luxury automobiles in India and raise the benchmarks for ourselves.