Giving another boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call to manufacturers to make in India, German luxury car maker Mercedes Benz said on Wednesday that it will begin assembling its entry-level sedan CLA, launched in January, at its factory in Pune.
The local assembly is expected bring down the price of the car by around Rs. 1-2 lakh.
Outside of Europe (Kecskemet in Hungary), India is the first market where the car is being assembled globally ahead of much bigger luxury car markets such as China, Japan, Brazil, Russia or South Korea.
“We currently have nine volume models for the Indian market, of which six are produced in India. CLA is the seventh model to be produced in the country,” said Eberhard Kern, managing director and CEO, Mercedes Benz India. The six models being assembled in India include the C, E, S, GLA, ML and GL class cars.
“With increased local production, we will be able to cater more to the growing demand for our products. CLA has a waiting period of 2-3 months depending on the variant and the location of the dealer, but the local assembly will bring it (waiting period) down,” he said.
In June, Mercedes had also started local assembly of its entry-level crossover GLA — again a first outside of Europe — and expanded its capacity in Pune to 20,000 units per annum.
The CLA sedan was launched this year at Rs. 31.5-35.9 lakh for a petrol and two diesel variants.
The car has been a big draw for the company globally but in India mid-size saloons such as Mercedes E Class, Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series outsell their smaller and cheaper cousins.
Currently, Mercedes is in a close fight with Audi for the pole position in the luxury car market in India. Its capacity is higher that BMW and Audi. The CLA competes with the Audi A3. BMW does not have a car in the category.
In the first half of this year its sales grew by 41% and the company has lined up nine product launches in the second half. Audi and BMW have not yet released their sales figures.