Tesla entering India: What does it mean for Mercedes EV plans?

Mercedes dominates the small but significant luxury EV landscape in India but will Tesla eventually entering the market force a change in strategy for
Mercedes continues to offer petrol and diesel-engine powered models, apart from high-performance AMG cars as well as the latest in electric techniology. (HT Auto/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)
Mercedes continues to offer petrol and diesel-engine powered models, apart from high-performance AMG cars as well as the latest in electric techniology.

Mercedes-Benz India has a commanding say in the country's luxury car market and the Germans have a formidable presence in the electric vehicle (EV) segment as well. Mercedes was the first among luxury car makers in India to launch an EV when the EQC SUV was brought in towards the end of 2020 and since, has models like the EQB, EQS and EQS AMG. But with Tesla confirming plans to enter India in the future, could the new challenge dent Mercedes' battery-powered ambitions?

Tesla is the global leader in EVs and has a substantial lead over all other rivals, many of which trace their respective history back several decades. Cars like Model 3 and Model Y are best-sellers not just among EVs but are now being counted high - in terms of sheer sales volumes - among vehicles across powertrains. CEO Elon Musk confirmed afte his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Tesla will make substantial investments in India. But Mercedes has a steadfast plan the world over - clean mobility with strong performance and the opulence level that has long defined the brand.

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In India, Mercedes is looking at continuing with its aggressive push across powertrains and this includes EVs. “We have got a clear EV strategy here and we will follow it while obviously adapting to the market and the way it is developing," Lance Bennett, Vice-President for Sales and Marketing at Mercedes-Benz India, told HT Auto during a recent interaction. “This news (Tesla confirming India entry) means no change for us and our strategy."

Bennett goes on to admit that more manufacturers offering EVs will auger well for the Indian market overall. “I think competition in the electric car market is good for the market and good for consumers," he explained. “We see a good demand in the EQ products. We are getting close to five per cent penetration of electric. Within the next four years, we see around 25 per cent of our sales (in India) coming from electrics."

Watch: Tesla to launch in India: Will it impact Mercedes-Benz’ EV plans?

But even as Mercedes bets big on an electric future, the company has been doggedly determined to have a wide and diverse portfolio. The company launched the SL 55 AMG Rodster in the country on Thursday as its third new AMG model of the year in India. The updated G-Class Adventure edition has also been launched while the 2023 GLC SUV is waiting in the wings for its India debut.

First Published Date: 23 Jun 2023, 14:56 PM IST

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