German luxury car maker Mercedes Benz on Tuesday said it expects India to be among its top ten global markets by 2020, as it continues to bring latest models and spread sales network in the country.
The company which launched the new E Class model priced between Rs 41.51 lakh and Rs 44.48 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) said it will look to reduce the time gap between global showcase of a new model and its launch in India as part of its aggressive business strategy for the country.
"Today the Indian market is not in the top ten global markets in terms of volumes for Mercedes but we believe in the potential of the market. Our expectation is that it will be in the top ten by 2020," Mercedes Benz India Managing Director and CEO Eberhard Kern told PTI.
Commenting on the potential of the Indian market, he said: "The base on which we are working is that by 2020 the overall car market in India will be 7 million units, up from 2.6 million last year."
Of the total, the share of the luxury segment will be 4 per cent by 2020, as compared to 1.2 per cent last year, he added.
"So the potential is huge in India and we are preparing ourself for the future although 2013 will not be a good year for the auto sector here," Kern said.
The company has been focusing on new product launches and network expansion.
"The new E Class is yet another example of our efforts to bring the latest global product in India at the shortest possible time. It was showcased globally in January at Detroit auto show and commercially launched in Europe in March and in June it is in India," Kern said.
Going forward, the effort will be to reduce the time further, although "for the Indian market we have to have a right hand drive car and diesel is a must", he said.
He said the E Class has been the company's flagship model and with the launch of this new model, the company expects sales to grow further.
"Globally 11 million units have been sold across five generations of the E Class and in India we have sold over 23,000 units since it was launched in 1995," Kern said.
The E Class will be available in both petrol and diesel options. While the petrol version is powered by a 2 litre engine, the diesel has a 2.2 litre engine. The company is also offering a special launch edition of the new E Class at Rs 49.9 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).
While Kern did not comment on the exact numbers expected from the new E Class, he said Mercedes Benz India has been able to grow total sales by 5.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 to over 2,000 units.
Overall, the company is targeting a double digit growth in sales this year from a total of 7,138 units sold last year, he added.
The company will launch the diesel version of its luxury compact car B Class model shortly followed by the sedan S Class later this year.
On the network expansion, Kern said this year, the company will add ten new outlets. Currently, it has 57 showrooms in 32 cities across the country.
"We continue to expand both in metros and smaller towns. Currently Delhi and Mumbai account for 45 per cent of total sales and rest from the remaining locations," he said.
The company is also adding new outlets in Vadodara, Kozhikode, Bhubaneshwar, among others this year.