India maybe one of the first markets to get the global small car being jointly developed by iconic German luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz and the French-Japanese collaboration of Renault Nissan, a top Mercedes Benz official told Hindustan Times.
Daimler AG and Renault announced last year a co-operation on platform and drive-train sharing that involve Mercedes, Renault, Nissan and Smart working together on new models. At the heart of the collaboration is Project Edison, a new small car initiative that will use rear wheel driven powertrains (currently used in the Smart car) expected to feature a range of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines as small as 1.2 litres.
"We have worked very closely with Renault over the past year and if we are able to develop something suitable for the market, then India could get it," said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of Daimler and head, Mercedes Benz. "We know small cars is big in India and we are aware of the growth potential. There is a lot of work going on between Renault and Smart. The new A-Class (Mercedes' smallest offering globally) also has a high chance."
Mercedes has been feeling the heat in India over the past three years which saw its first mover advantage among the troika of luxury German carmakers get nullified in the country. Even as its sales grew robustly by 80% to over 5,800 units in 2010, it could not wrest the number one position from arch rival BMW, a stated target at the start of the year.
"Competition is always good for the industry as it creates demand for luxury cars and it is not in India alone that we are witnessing this," Zetsche said.
"For sure, we are not at the top in terms of the number of cars sold but our profits are very healthy here and that to me is a more important consideration," he said. "Nevertheless, the product offensive will continue."
Lux car buyers, watch this space.