Mercs and Ludhiana - it's all in the DNA!

Many Germans may not have heard of Punjab's biggest industrial city, but ask the marketing guys of automobile giant Daimler-Chrysler and they will say a big 'yes'.

business Updated: Aug 26, 2007 11:40 IST

Many Germans may not have heard of Punjab's biggest industrial city Ludhiana, but ask the marketing guys of automobile giant Daimler-Chrysler and they will say a big 'yes'.

For the ever-increasing elite population of Ludhiana too, the name Stuttgart - the birthplace of modern day Mercedes cars - may not ring a bell, but talk of Mercedes-Benz and their eyes will light up.

It's a city that has a yen for the good things of life. Going to plush five-star hotels, buying cell phones worth over Rs 2.5 million and buying a special mobile number for a whopping Rs 1.55 million are all part of the lifestyle game now.

Over 550 Mercedes-Benz cars - the majority of them brought in the last three or four years - move on Ludhiana's congested roads.

So it's no surprise that Mercedes maker Daimler-Chrysler has set its eyes on the city and Punjab as a big "future market".

Wilfried Aulbur, the automobile giant's managing director and CEO, told IANS that Ludhiana had the highest concentration of Mercedes cars among all Indian cities in relation to the number of people who have the capacity to buy high-end luxury sedans.

"The DNA of Mercedes gels very well with the DNA of people in Ludhiana and Punjab! Punjabis are enterprising and innovative people. They also have an attraction for good things in life. It's a very exciting moment for us to be here," Aulbur said.

The Mercs in Ludhiana, Chandigarh - which has over 300 of them - and other places in Punjab have got the automobile company to realise that North India is the biggest market for them.

Tai-Pan Motors, the Mercedes dealers for Ludhiana and Chandigarh, have been setting records in Merc sales every year.

"We expect to sell over 210 Mercedes cars this year also," points out Tai-Pan motors owner Manjit Singh Bala.

The preference of most Merc lovers is for the high-selling E-class (price range Rs.3.5 million to 4.2 million) even though there is no dearth of those wanting to buy the much superior S-class (over Rs.10 million) and the newly launched CL-class (Rs.11 million to Rs.15 million).

The cheapest of all Mercedes models - the C-class (around Rs.2.8 million) - is now being offered by the company through its 'star choice' instalment plan at Rs.29,999 per month.

The company now has stiff competition, with another German high-end automobile maker - BMW - launching its 3, 5 and 7 series cars in Punjab through a dealership in Chandigarh.

Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) Pajero and Montero are already selling in Punjab and Chandigarh in big numbers.

But given the unruly traffic on Ludhiana's crowded roads, not every Mercedes owner is happy.

"I sold my Mercedes car as the tension of driving it in Ludhiana led to my blood pressure going up. Keeping a Mercedes in a city like Chandigarh with its wide roads is a better option," said a former owner in Ludhiana.

The company recorded a growth of 22 percent in sales this year compared to last year. This year it sold 670 E-class, 480 C-class and 240 S-class cars in India till July.

First Published: Aug 26, 2007 11:36 IST