NEW DELHI :Mercedes-Benz India Pvt. Ltd, the country’s largest luxury carmaker, will follow a top-down strategy with its electric vehicles (EVs) in alignment with its global plan to exit the “volume segment” play, and hopes to benefit from the fact that its rivals are launching EVs in more affordable price brackets, competing with mass-market players, a top company executive said.
Top-end vehicles contribute to a quarter of the German carmaker’s sales in India, whereas entry-level luxury models contribute close to 15% of its sales.
Mercedes-Benz India on Friday launched its first EV for the market in this year, the EQE SUV at ₹1.39 crore, after introducing the locally-assembled EQS sedan and the EQB SUV last year. This will be the Stuttgart-based carmaker’s seventh new launch in India in the calendar year, and the third product in its battery electric vehicle (BEV) portfolio at present.
The carmaker expects to achieve double-digit growth in 2023. Building on the positive customer sentiment seen during the festival season, which now stretches from August to November, the company will also launch two more products, in the core luxury segment and top-end categories, respectively. India is expected to see the launch of the new Concept CLA class, unveiled in Munich earlier this month, in 2025, Ola Kallenius, the chairman of the board of management at Mercedes-Benz Group AG had told Mint.
“Fortunately, the brand positioning and also the way we are configuring the products in India are all in the top-end segment. So, even if there are cheaper EVs coming to India, our product will be highly differentiated with better technology and better software,” Santosh Iyer, the managing director and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz India, said. “We are much better positioned with EVs in India in terms of the transition to electrification because even if some of the big brands decide to compete with mass-market players, that actually gives us a much better space at the top-end,” stated Iyer, justifying why the company will stick to a top-down approach for the market, even if it means sacrificing volumes to rivals who have snagged a dominant share of the country’s market for luxury EVs. In the first half of 2023, BEVs accounted for 5% of Mercedes-Benz’s total sales, a figure expected to quadruple over the next five years.
Mercedes-Benz is also gearing up to install a network of high-capacity chargers in the country to ease the adoption of luxury EVs. It currently hosts over 140 AC and DC chargers spread across the country, and will now allow all EV users to access its Fast Charger Network, ensuring accessibility for EV users across brands. The initiative includes complimentary charging for Mercedes Benz customers until the end of 2023.
While the luxury carmaker will no longer expand its retail touchpoints, it is increasing its service footprint significantly to cater to the growing Mercedes Benz car park in India, and address the service requirements of new EV customers. “We have dedicated technicians for EVs, in the mechatronics programmes with engineering colleges, we have incorporated EV modules and certification guidelines. Every workshop has dedicated charging and high-voltage training. It’s a full ecosystem, we’re not just focused on new models,” Iyer said.