Luxury car sales have fallen steeply in India, with major international players selling significantly fewer units than last year.
In January, Mercedes sold just 79 cars, down from 330 in December 2008 and down 78 per cent over January last year. Japan's third largest carmaker, Nissan, managed just four cars in January. Nissan sells its X-Trail sports utility vehicle and the sedan Teana in India.
"There is a sheer drop in luxury car sales. See the kind of discounts carmakers are offering — Mercedes has been giving discounts of up to ₹3 lakh for the past two months. Yet, sales haven't picked up," said a Mumbai-based dealer, who requested anonymity.
The luxury car segment, which was up 69 per cent in December 2008 from December 2007, is down almost 35 per cent in January 2009 from January 2008. Compared with 567 in the last month of 2008, the combined sale of luxury carmakers is down to 413 in the first month of 2009.
Only Audi, buoyed by its A4, has managed to clock a decent 114 cars in January, a growth of 126 per cent over the same month last year.
It grew from 85 cars in December 2008 to 114 in January 2009, according to a survey from JD Power Asia Pacific, a market research firm.
Mercedes acknowledged the drop and chalked out a plan to counter flagging sales. "Our initiatives in 2009 will be aimed at reinforcing our leadership position. Monthly comparisons don't necessarily reflect market trends," said Wilfried Aulbur, MD and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India.
Mercedes was upstaged by BMW, the other carmaker to buck the trend with its upgraded line of diesel sedans. It sold 223 cars, up
11 per cent from last January and the 180 it sold in December.