Mercedes-Benz has been on a product offensive in India with a special eye out on first-time buyers in the luxury car segment. And while the recently-launched A-Class Limousine may be specifically meant for a younger audience and those looking to break into the luxury car space for the first time ever, it is the potential that performance cars hold here that has the German car maker mighty excited.
Mercedes had already revealed plans of locally assembling several AMG products in the country. On Thursday, the A35 AMG became the second AMG after the AMG GLC 43 Coupe to join the Made-in-India list. At ₹56.24 lakh (ex showroom), it is also the most affordable AMG. "We believe there is substantial potential in the AMG brand. The local production is driving the growth," Martin Schwenk, MD and CEO at Mercedes-Benz India, told HT Auto during a telephonic conversation. "Local manufacturing helps in keeping price points more affordable and practical."
Schwenk, however, feels a more affordable price point doesn't translate to a compromise on exclusivity. "Overall, the potential is there for these cars, but we are not diluting the brand image and that is not what we are intended to at all," he explained.
But while locally assembled performance cars can indeed escape high taxes imposed on vehicles brought in via the Completely Built Unit (CBU) route, the main thrust for Mercedes is still coming in from its traditionally luxurious offerings. Schwenk feels buying a luxury car is also lifestyle related. "I think luxury (car) customers often enjoy the feeling of driving the car. We have tried to implement that in styling on our offerings. Around 60% of the buyers for Mercedes are first-time buyers. The other 40% of the buyers already own a Mercedes and they want an additional vehicle for their families," he said, adding that while there is a little advantage for Mercedes sedans in India vis-a-vis SUVs, the ratio in terms of sales of each body type sold is near equal. "Sedans are essential for the development of luxury segments," he said.