Luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz on Thursday launched an upper-end variant of its flagship luxury sedan E-Class in diesel version -- E350 -- making it the eighth of the planned 10 launches this year.
With a starting price of Rs 57.42 lakh (ex-showroom Pune), launch of the E350 marks the revamp of the German giant's E-Class portfolio in the country and is the sixth model to be assembled at its Chakan, Pune facility, managing director and chief executive Eberhard Kern told reporters during the unveiling of the car.
The E-Class portfolio includes the E200, E250 and E350 and E63 AMG, which are available in both diesel and petrol options.
Kern said the new E350 sports a 6-cylinder, 3-litre engine and a host of features and has one of the higher torque, helping the car reach 100 kmph in flat 6.6 seconds.
At present, all its models have petrol variants except the SUVs and over 20 % of the total volume comes from petrol models.
Terming the new E350 as an 'intelligent superpower', Kern said the car combines numerous 'Intelligent drive assistance systems' such a light systems, auto parking assist and attention assist, which will go a long way in ensuring maximum safety.
Kern also said that going forward the company will offer sunroof facility on all models as a standard feature.
The E-Class is not only the largest selling luxury sedan in the country but also the largest selling model for Mercedes-Benz here, having more than 25,000 units on road since its entry in November 1995.
At present, over 30 % of its volume comes from the E-Class, and globally as well it is the largest selling model for the German parent, Kern said, adding, "but it is not as high as in this market." Other new features in the E350 include a 360-degree camera, a panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon sound system, among others.
With over 25 % growth in sales so far this year, Kern said Merc is the fastest growing luxury automobile brand in the country and expressed confidence that the company could easily meet the target of double digit sales growth this year.
The company had sold 9,003 units last year and if the current sales growth is maintained it could easily sniff at the 11,000-mark this year.
In FY14, the company logged in a whopping 47 % jump in sales at over 9,500 cars in the country.
Mercedes-Benz India product portfolio comprises the locally produced S, E, C, GL and M-Class and the completely built imported models like the A, CLS, SLK-Class and the luxury tourer B-Class, apart from the iconic off-roader G-63 AMG as well as a wide range of other AMG performance cars like the CLA45 AMG, C63 AMG, E63 AMG, SLK55 AMG, GL63 AMG and ML63 AMG.
These models are sold through its 64 outlets spanning across 36 cities. The company will add four more dealers by December, Kern said.
When asked whether sales have declined after the company increased prices by up to 2.5 % citing input cost increase, Kern said, "Absolutely not. The new prices are effective September 1." He said the company will be assembling the CLA-Class locally from next year.
The Chakan plant has an installed capacity of 20,000 units per annum but is highly under-utilised now.