Mercedes-Benz India, which saw a 43% decline in 2020 on sales of 7,893 units, said that inquiry levels for cars have “already crossed the pre-Covid numbers” and added that many models are currently stocked out as supplies remain a challenge.
“The market has come back strongly, and the pace of recovery has even taken us by surprise. We are expecting a high double-digit growth this year, something in the range of 25% or more,” Mercedes-Benz India director (sales & marketing) Santosh Iyer told TOI.
The company leads the luxury market in India, but the loss of business during the Covid lockdown and the subsequent pressure meant that a full recovery remains a task.
“The demand has been strong, and we had under-estimated the pace of recovery. We have a back-log of customer deliveries at this point, and models such as the GLE and GLS SUVs are having a waiting period of over two months, while the EQC electric is sold out till May.”
The market for luxury cars in India is still to mature to levels seen in the developed countries of the Western world and China, despite the presence of brands such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover.
The contribution of luxury to overall car sales fell to under 1% in 2020, with estimated industry volumes at around 21,000 units — a 37% decline over the near-34,000 units sold in 2019. This number for the luxury players is the lowest since 2010 when the companies had cumulatively sold 15,280 vehicles, according to numbers sourced from the industry.
Iyer said that the government should consider softening the taxes on larger cars to give an impetus to demand, and added that the GST rates should be relooked at. The company also drove in the new version of its E-Class sedan, pricing the model between Rs 63.6 lakh and Rs 81 lakh (ex-showroom).
Mercedes-Benz India MD & CEO Martin Schwenk said the E-Class remains the company’s largest-selling model with more than 46,000 units on the road. “Sedans remain a key focus for us even as we continue to strengthen our SUV portfolio,” Schwenk said.