Mercedes India MD & CEO Peter Honegg launches the GL-class

Mercedes India MD & CEO Peter Honegg launches the GL-class

Mercedes Benz India is to widen its product range to gain leadership in the luxury car segment here. BMW has already overtaken it and Audi closing the gap.

“We are planning to extend our portfolio upwards and downwards. We are bringing in the A and B class in the next couple of years,” MD and CEO Peter Honegg told just-auto at the SL350 and GL500 launch.

Mercedes Benz plans to produce the A and B class lines in India. “If we want to bring in numbers then we have to produce these cars in India otherwise their sales would remain limited to a few cars,” Honegg said. The Indian operation is awaiting German approval to commence manufacturing the entry level cars in India.

“We hope to produce these cars in India by 2013,” Honegg said.

Competing brands have overtaken Mercedes becuase it doesn’t have a wide range of locally produced models.

“We have to manufacture enough products locally to compete with competitors in the Indian market,” Honegg said. "Local content [of the A and B-class] would not be more than 40%.”

He added Mercedes Benz would bring in more diesel models due to the increasing popularity of such models in India.

Mercedes Benz India sold 2,135 units in the first quarter of 2011, up 67% year on year. It sold 833 units in March alone, the highest sales in any single month.

“We have already sold 2,672 units so far in 2011. We sold 5,280 units last calendar year,” HOnegg said.

Plant capacity is so far no problem. The Chaken factory can produce 10,000 units annually with two shifts.