Pre-pandemic sales are almost here: Mercedes-Benz India

“Sales declined slightly during CY19 (13,786 units) and then the pandemic hit (7,893 units in CY20).”

As of Q3CY21, Mercedes-Benz car sales have almost reached pre-pandemic levels. But the German automaker might not be able to reach sales of CY19 in CY21, due to the second wave of Covid-19 earlier this year which negatively impacted sales and the disruption of sales. current supply (due to semiconductor shortage). “However, I must add that demand has definitely reached pre-pandemic levels,” said Martin Schwenk, Managing Director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, in an interview with Vikram Chaudhary of FE.

In what year did you peak in terms of new car sales?

It was in CY18, when we sold 15,538 units in India. Sales fell slightly in CY19 (13,786 units), then the pandemic hit (7,893 units in CY20).

Can you match the sales levels of CY19 in CY21?

The execution rate, at least at T3CY21, is at pre-pandemic levels, but of course we did not get the full year of sales in CY21 (due to the second wave of Covid-19 which had a negative impact on sales). In addition, during the current T4CY21, we were faced with supply constraints. However, I must add that demand has definitely reached pre-pandemic levels, and so the challenge is how to meet that demand.

What do you think of the high import duties on CBU electric vehicles? Should they be reduced for, say, a 3-4 year period to make EVs more popular?

Any decision made for the auto industry must have a long-term view. It makes sense to define a policy that sets a clear path for automakers. Instead of having an immediate reduction of, say, import duties on electric vehicles, there can be a gradual approach to reduce the duties over time to a much lower level, which would then open up the market and benefit. to consumers. From now on, I hope the regulations regarding the reduction in the GST for electric vehicles remain in place.
When it comes to import duties in general, we can follow the WTO levels (between 10% and 20%) and create plans to gradually reach those levels.

What has been the response to the EQC electric car?

It was purchased primarily by existing luxury car owners who wish to have a more durable vehicle in their garage; also, those who want both electric and luxury. At first we sold the EQC in only six cities, but now we have opened up the whole network for this car.

What does your diesel portfolio look like?

Currently 70% of our sales are from diesel models because a large percentage of customers want diesel engines. I should add that our diesel engines are very clean, and because they are much more fuel efficient than gasoline engines, their carbon dioxide emissions are also comparatively lower. Outside of metropolitan cities, there is a huge demand for diesel cars, and especially SUVs.

How have customers / partners reacted to your Retail of the Future (ROTF) model?

Under the ROTF, Mercedes-Benz sells cars directly to customers. With the ROTF, we have created a completely unified customer journey experience with many innovative initiatives in the industry. For the first time in India, there are no ancillary or additional charges for customers, and they have direct access to Mercedes-Benz India’s domestic stock with a wide variety of inventory choices. The ROTF is a step towards getting closer to our customers, and the result of listening to their requirements and acting on them.

Why did you start local production of AMG cars, which sell for a few hundred units in India?

This step reiterates our strong commitment to the Indian market. Local production of AMG cars will further increase the popularity of the performance brand in India and meet the growing demand from performance car enthusiasts. It also gives us a competitive advantage in the dynamic Indian luxury car market.

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