Mercedes-Benz sees best-ever year in India

NEW DELHI: Pointing to a strong demand in the luxury car space, German giant Mercedes-Benz has said that it has pending orders in excess of Rs 3,500 crore in India with over 5,000 cars yet to be delivered, as the company expects to clock its best-ever sales in the country this year on the back of a strong double-digit growth.

Santosh Iyer, VP (sales & marketing) at Mercedes-Benz India, said the buyer rush remains strong for luxury cars, led by a variety of factors, including pent-up demand as well as higher disposable incomes due to less spending on travel and shopping over the past two years that were hit hard by Covid restrictions and lockdowns.

“The India story remains strong, and we are hoping to surpass all previous records this year,” Iyer told TOI as the company drove in the C-Class sedan priced between Rs 55 lakh and Rs 61 lakh (ex-showroom). At its peak, the company had sold 15,538 units in 2018, though numbers had come down thereafter, first on economic slowdown, and thereafter due to the Covid slowdown and semiconductor shortages. Iyer said that many models of the company are on a wait-list, and it has even stopped taking bookings for models such as the G-Class and the GLS-Maybach that cost upwards of Rs 1 crore.

“There is a painful waiting period, and we have to face a tough time explaining the situation to the buyers. For example, the A-Class has a waiting period of four to five months, S-Class has a waiting of three to four months, GLE of four months, and GLS of eight to twelve months.”

Demand has been coming from across the markets, not only from metros and larger towns, but also from smaller cities such as Guwahati, Surat, Ahmedabad, and Chandigarh. “Among other factors, we see a tendency where people seem to be rewarding themselves with new vehicles for achieving strong business results. Also, professionals such as doctors and architects have been buying luxury cars.”

Iyer also said that a younger buying population has also been behind the surge. Even for a model such as the S-Class, the average buying age has come down from 42-43 years previously to 38 years now.