In what promises to be the tightest-ever race for the pole position in India’s luxury car segment, expect a flurry of luxury car launches from Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW this year.
An estimated dozen new launches or facelifts are expected to hit the roads led by the new Mercedes C Class, compact crossover GLA and compact sedans Audi A3 sedan and Mercedes CLA AMG. The list is topped up with BMW’s big gamble with its hybrid sportscar i8. Expected to cost Rs. 2 crore, it would open up a completely new category in the luxury car battle worldwide.
“We are in the middle of a product offensive in India. We will have three main product lines this year — the crossover GLA, compact sedan CLA and a full line up of our AMG series,” said Olla Kallenius, member of the divisional board of Mercedes Benz Cars. “We have a two-pronged approach. One is on the entry-level side where we are witnessing significant volumes and the other on the top-of-the-line products that create aspiration for the Mercedes brand. India was one of our fastest-growing market globally in 2013 and we are in a very strong position this year.”
The launches are in the backdrop of an increasingly messy battle for the leadership position. Audi capitalised on BMW’s slip in sales last year to emerge as the highest-selling luxury brand in India in 2013 but while doing so it was outpaced by Mercedes that also has more launches in the pipeline this year.
The number 1 tag therefore remains the most coveted title.
“Winning in India is an absolute priority for us. We are on top here and don’t want to give it up,” said Terrence Bryce Johnson, vice-president, overseas sales, Audi AG. “This year we will bring in the A3 sedan and it will be a huge game changer for India.”