Despite stiff competition catching up with the German luxury car brand from compatriots BMW and Audi, the Mercedes Benz India has chalked out an ambitious plan to gain back lost leadership and crucial market share - two new models every year and nearly Rs 1000 crore in fresh investments , including in production capacity as well as fresh and youthful branding.
While BMW sailed past Mercedes in 2009, Audi is breathing down its neck, looking to surge ahead after it launches the Q3 mini SUV later this year. Debashish Mitra, Sales and Marketing Director, said Mercedes is all set to unveil new styling and fresh brands into the Indian market.
"The new M Class comes this year and so does the all-new next-generation B Class. We will follow this with the GL SUVs and the A Class hatchbacks in 2013, and this would make out for a strong, and contemporary portfolio, for the brand. The design language of the new cars is sharp, edgy and very chic."
The introduction of the X1 mini SUV had helped BMW sail past Mercedes and Audi has a similar product in the Q3 to take it ahead. Mitra said it is "not fair" to talk about rankings when his company does not have a product in the entry-SUV category. "We are leading in most of the categories where we all compete, and it is just the absence of the mini-SUV that makes a difference in overall volumes. The real test will be when we have a similar product in our kitty."
But that is sometime away. The GLC, the company’s version of a low-cost SUV, is currently under development and will make way to India only in 2014. "But we are not worried. With the major overhaul in our portfolio, volumes will certainly go up." And the company is also making changes to its brand positioning in the market , looking to add the much-required young blood to beat the criticism that it is a ’brand for the uncles’ .
The company has been actively engaging in activities around the F 1 circuit while also doing a slew of other events to engage the youth.
It is also bringing in appealing cars like the SLS-AMG to the market to add fizz to its image. "We have what it takes to be a youthful brand and it is wrong to assume that only the old like us," Mitra added.