Chennai: After a neck-and-neck race that lasted two years, Mercedes-Benz is back at the top of the heap in the Indian luxury car market. In the January-March 2015 period, Mercedes-Benz has 3,566 units compared to Audi’s 3,181 units in the same period, which makes Mercedes-Benz the leader in the luxury car market ousting Audi from the top spot for the quarter. German rival BMW does not disclose sales numbers but estimates put the brand’s January-March 2015 sales at nearly 1,500 units, making it the third luxe brand in the pecking order.
Mercedes-Benz has returned to the top slot in the Indian luxe car market five years after losing the perch to BMW in 2009.
BMW in turn lost it to Audi in 2012. For the financial year 2014-15 Audi continues to be the top luxe brand though its lead over No. 2 Mercedes-Benz is a slender 79 units.
In FY15, Audi India sold 11,292 units, up 11.51% over the year-ago period. In the same period, Mercedes-Benz India sold 11,213 units, up 17.5% year-on-year. BMW, say industry sources, sold around 7,000 units.
The three German brands have traditionally commanded nearly 90% of Indian luxury car sales.
Eberhard Kern, MD & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, said: “We grew by 40% in the January-March 2015 period which also resulted in a significant lead with respect to our competitors, and we have taken over the top spot in terms of sales volume. Our growth in Q1 2015 could have been even more, but some of our key models like the S-Class, GL-Class, ML-Class and CLA-Class were on a waitlist. Our leadership position, which we were able to acquire quite early in 2015, makes us even more confident of our success for the remaining year. We are the fastest growing luxury car brand for two consecutive years now, and we will be achieving another year of double-digit growth in 2015,” he added.
Arch rival Audi, for its part, is taking a “marathon” view of the race instead of a “sprint”. Said Joe King, head, Audi India: “We are happy to retain leadership position in the luxury car market this financial year and for two consecutive years, despite having only one major launch (Audi A3) in the last fiscal. Our first quarter sales are well ahead of plan and we look forward to new blockbuster model launches to continue our success story in India. Audi is the only luxury car brand in India that has grown consistently and continuously over the last seven years. We have consciously followed a strategy which delivers consistent growth and not sporadic peaks. We made the choice to not blindly chase volumes, we’re here for the long-term and not just to ‘sell more cars this year’,” he added.
Auto experts say Mercedes Benz stepped on the gas in 2013 with the launch of its volume models A-Class and B-Class.
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