Aulbur, who was in Chennai to launch the new M-Class SUV luxury, said that Mercedes-Benz India has received an encouraging response to its luxury buses, which were launched a few months ago. These buses are currently being utilised by inter-city bus operators.
We are looking at introducing new models, including low-floor buses, in the next 12-15 months," he said. The company sees the market for these buses in India at around 300 units per year. Presently, Volvo is the major player in the segment.
Mercedes-Benz is also looking at launching different models of trucks, said Aulbur. Currently, high-end trucks from Mercedes stable, used mainly in mining, are available in the country. The company has sold over 250 units till date, with an annual growth of 53%.
India holds huge potential for commercial vehicles in the long-term, he said.
We see the passenger vehicles segment growing at 12% annually, whereas luxury cars will grow at 15-20% and CVs at 7% in the long run. This is encouraging, he said.
South India contributes over 30% to Mercedes-Benz Indias overall sales across segments. Last year, the company sold around 3,625 units at an annual growth rate of 45%.
Earlier, after launching new M-Class SUV, Aulbur said that the company hopes to post a marginal growth this year despite the slowdown. Unlike China, Brazil or Russia, the luxury car segment in India is small but growing. There is a huge potential for luxury cars in the country over a period of time, he opined.
However, he said that unless there is a sizeable demand for luxury cars, it is impossible to manufacture them in the country.
Regarding the companys strategy on bio fuels, Aulbur said, We have started funding an NGO to encourage farmers in Tamil Nadu to grow Jatropha plants on waste land. It will not only benefit farmers, but also generate employment, apart from benefiting the company in the long run. There will be a demand for sustainable mobility in the years to come, where bio fuels will play a major role.