The race for the top slot in the Indian luxury car market is turning dirtier by the day with arch rivals Mercedes Benz and BMW trading verbal volleys at each other at every opportunity.
While Mercedes Benz has been accusing BMW of offering lavish discounts and de-contenting its cars like the entry-level 3 series sedan to rise to the top, BMW hit back on Tuesday saying Mercedes was feeling the pressure and hence losing composure at being dethroned from the top in just three years.
“There is not one single initiative where our rival is ahead of us,” said Andreas Schaaf, president, BMW. “Be it such business activities like pre-owned cars, financial services or corporate editions or marketing endeavours like organising lifestyle events, we have led and they have followed us.”
Despite its over-a-decade long presence in India, Mercedes lost its numero uno position to BMW last year, which entered the country in 2007. Since then, however, Mercedes has regained some lost ground with aggressive product launches that has placed them ahead of BMW this year so far.
The difference is razor thin and the heat palpable.
“We do not believe in discounts or de-contenting like some of our competitors,” said Wilfried Aulbur, MD and CEO, Mercedes Benz India. “We make aspirational products and every customer has some minimum expectations from a Merc. De-contenting will be a shame.”
BMW simply scoffed at the remarks. “Our brand remains as aspirational as ever but we are only making it accessible to a lot more people,” Schaaf said. “Whatever the competitor may say, we have done in all Asian markets with remarkable results. That is not to say they have not done something similar with their C class.”