When it comes to Mercedes cars, Punjab is on top gear. So high is the demand for them that the world-renowned luxury carmaker is gasping to catch up.
With 175 car units being sold by the sole dealer in Punjab, one of India's richest states, and its capital Chandigarh, Tai-pan Motors, in 2007, cars sales have shown an all time high.
"Last year was quite a jump. The demand is so much that I am unable to keep pace with the orders. People just walk in and want to buy one of the models. I am unable to fulfil the entire demand," Tai-pan managing director Manjit Singh Bala told IANS.
Having showrooms only in Chandigarh and the region's industrial hub of Ludhiana, Tai-pan had sold 125 Mercedes cars in 2005 and 138 in 2006. In 2008, Bala is expecting to sell up to 300 car units. Merc models here cost upwards of Rs 2.5 million and go up to Rs 20 million.
The craze is so much, especially for the newly re-launched and modified C-class, that the dealer has virtually run out of cars of this model.
"Youngsters particularly want to buy this car model, given its attractive features and the new design. But we try to know about the customer and his need," Bala said.
At a time when this region is witnessing growing competition among leading top-end foreign brand cars like BMW and Mitsubishi Montero and Pajero, Mercedes has picked up in sales.
"Our sales picked up after the BMW dealership came to Chandigarh," Bala said.
Numerous BMWs, the 3, 5 and 7-series cars, and scores of Mitsubishi Montero and Pajero sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have been sold by respective dealers in Chandigarh in the last over one year.
Mercedes-India has officially acknowledged Ludhiana as the Merc-capital of the world. The industrial city has over 550 Mercedes cars while Chandigarh has another 300. Jalandhar city, which falls in the NRI-rich belt, boasts of 250 plus Mercedes cars.
"People in Chandigarh buy cars to flaunt these but Ludhiana is very competitive. Buyers there buy a Mercedes to reward themselves for working hard and earning well," Bala pointed out.
The C, E and S class remained the top favourites with buyers in the region. The 'E-class' accounted for 80 car units - the highest among all Mercedes models, while 50 units of S-class were sold last year.
"Punjab is a young market. People are going beyond these models to look at convertibles and others in the Mercedes brand," Bala added.