Mercedes-Benz India’s Managing Director & CEO Santosh Iyer, on Friday, said that 2022 was the best year for the company in 28 years. The German carmaker posted record sales in 2022 at 15,822 units, had sold more than 3,500 cars priced above Rs 1 crore last year, and still has a backlog of around 6,000 cars.
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In comparison, Mercedes-Benz India sold 11,242 units in 2021 and its previous best sales was achieved in 2018 at 15,583 units. "The biggest growth for us in the last year has come from the TEV (top-end vehicle) segment, where we have grown by 69 per cent," said the newly appointed CEO.
Iyer said, “We have the largest luxury EV charging network in India” adding that in the next three years around 25 percent of Mercedez Benz sales to be EVs in India.
Mercedes-Benz India launched its ‘AMG E53 4MATIC+ Cabriolet’ at Rs 1.3 crore on Friday. The company’s top-end vehicles include S-Class Maybach, GLS Maybach, top-end AMGs, S-Class and GLS SUV, which are priced over Rs 1 crore (ex-showroom).
Iyer stated that the company is also working on reducing wait times to around 6 months from up to 9 months. He further also revealed a big demographic shift among buyers, and said, "We have more women buyers buying Mercedes Benz cars, an average age for an S Class buyers has come down to 38 years, for a C Class its 35 and salaried class are also increasingly buying Mercedes Benz cars."
The CEO also said that the supply chain issues are likely to continue in 2023 due to the energy crisis, covid lockdowns and the war headwinds.
He further said bringing more products into the TEV segment will be a part of the company’s "six pillars" strategy for 2023. The company is looking at an overall double-digit sales growth this year, and as part of the drive also plans to launch ten new vehicles in India in 2023 with the majority in the over Rs 1 crore price category.
Expanding the TEV base is a key part of the strategy, Iyer said, adding, "we have grown at 69 per cent and we will be launching more products there. We have sold more than 3,500 cars only in TEVs in 2022… that’s a lot of cars in the Rs 1-crore-plus segment".
Also, he said the company will be putting a lot of emphasis on its online store to enhance the omnichannel experience for its customers.
"We sold 2,000 cars through our online platform last year… We are making it even better for customers today. Earlier, they were not able to see cars which will be produced after three months. With the enhancements in our online store, they can see visibility of cars for up to one year," Iyer said.
Mercedes-Benz India will also take the lead in electric vehicles, and is looking at more EVs to enhance its product portfolio to add to the existing models EQC, EQB, EQS 53 AMG and EQS 580, he added.
Sustainability is also a key theme of the 2023 strategy, Iyer said, adding, "Last year, we achieved 100 per cent green power for our Chakan facility… we will not stop there. We are also committing that in 2023 we will go 100 per cent paperless." He further said, "for the first time we are extending the responsibility to our franchisee partner network. We are saying that one-third of our network will operate on sustainable power and the full network will go green by 2025."
The company is also increasing its supply chain resilience as it increases production which is already "at two shifts and in a couple of areas we are running three shifts”.
While talking about Budget 2023m Iyer said that he wants policy consistency and continuation of GST benefits on EVs for 5-10 years. He also added that “India has one of the most stringent regulatory environments when it comes to EVs or certification or CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) II norms.”
In terms of the growth outlook for 2023, Iyer said, "We are looking at profitable and resilient growth. We are aiming for double-digit growth. A sustained growth helps us to also do more investment and therefore it’s important that we focus on the profitability and resilient growth for the market.”