The domestic luxury car segment is witnessing its most intense fight ever for the top spot with German arch rivals Mercedes Benz and BMW fighting literally for every single customer. What makes the story even more engrossing is the emergence of another German, Audi, whose sales are growing the fastest.
Mercedes has been the traditional king of the luxury car segment, comprising cars worth more than Rs 25 lakh each. With its entry into the market in 2007, though, BMW gave a stiff challenge to Merc’s near monopoly and managed to usurp the throne last year, ahead of its own internal targets.
Mercedes, however, seems to be on a comeback trail, launching 12 cars in as many weeks at the start of the year which saw it leading again in the first two months. By March-end, both companies were a mere 32 cars apart with BMW leading again.
“One of our big targets this year is to sustain the leadership position we achieved last year along with maintaining our profitability,” said Peter Kronschnabl, President, BMW India. “As in the past we expect a double digit growth this year and should sell over 4,000 units.”
After the low of 2009, Mercedes, too, is aiming at a blockbuster year. With 1,282 cars sold this year, it has achieved 66 per cent growth over last year.
“The market is evolving and the acceptability of luxury products shows that aspirations have grown,” said Dr Wilfried Aulbur, managing director and CEO, Mercedes Benz India. “The key challenge for all of us is how we create aspiration for everybody. This year we will have a blockbuster high double digit growth.”
With 103 per cent growth in Jan-March 2010, Audi has also become a potent competitor. The company is already ahead of the pack in China and Europe and it is targeting to replicate that in India as early as 2015. “Our targets for India and the world are the same — number one by 2015,” said Martin Birkner, vice president marketing, Audi India.