Mercedes-Benz plans new car lines at Chakan
Mercedes-Benz is expected to build its second and third car production lines at its plant near Pune and invest about Rs. 350 crore in India.
Mercedes-Benz is looking to regain the number one luxury carmaker spot in India from BMW in about two years. BMW surpassed Mercedes-Benz in 2008 to gain the number position the company lost in 2009.
Local assembly of 4-5 models are under works, helping it rapidly gain volumes by avoiding the high domestic import duties on fully-built cars. Additionally, extended wheelbase variants of the C and E class sedans are also being considered for India which is currently sold in the Chinese markets.
The two new models and both compact cars — B-Class launch is later this year and A-Class rollout is due for early 2013. The other two sports utility vehicles (SUVs), the M-Class and the GL-Class, are already part of the domestic portfolio. A fifth model, a small SUV ‘GLC’ is likely to come by 2014.
The five new products will help the company expand its portfolio and also address a larger customer base. Currently the luxury car manufacturer is making the C, E and S-Class at its Chakan plant. The M-Class and GL-Class could also see an assemble operation in India very soon.
“India is an important growth market for us, where we see quite some potential for the future. In order to tap this potential we will be continuously expanding our presence in this key market. This will happen, for example, by enlarging our dealer network, but also by ramping up production capacities accordingly,” Mr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management, Daimler AG and Head, Mercedes-Benz Cars Division said.
Added Mr Matthias Luhrs, Chairman of the India Board and Vice-President for Global Sales: “In terms of sheer volumes, it is important to start with local production for the A and B Class. We hope to double our volumes with these models (to over 15,000 units).” He added that a mid-term plan for India is ready, with a Board approval expected in the next few months.