German luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz Thursday said sales in India are currently muted and expects these to grow only in the second half of 2019 after the general elections in the country.The company, which Thursday launched its AMG C 43 4MATIC Coupé with a starting price of Rs 75 lakh (ex-showroom India), also said it sees a higher growth rate for its performance cars though the absolute volume remains small. Mercedes-Benz India, which sold 15,538 units in 2018, is hopeful that it would be able to sell more this year despite the current tough market conditions.
"Sales are okay so far but they are not indicating any growth story at the moment. We see customers still coming to the showroom, showing interest in the products but we see hesitation in purchase," Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Martin Schwenk told PTI here.Currently, the overall automobile market sentiment is weak with customers holding back discretionary spends, high interest rates and tightening of financing by non-banking financial companies.
"We expect some of these to stabilise in the second half after the elections. We don't expect any growth in the first half," he said.On the past trend, Schwenk said: "Historically, in election years (in India), we have muted sales prior to the election period and one or two months after the elections, we get stability and better growth. So, we have seen the history and that's what we expect for this election year (too)".
The Lok Sabha elections will be held from April 11 to May 19 across seven phases, followed by counting of votes on May 23.When asked about the overall sales outlook for the year, he said: "We are cautiously optimistic to have some growth based on last year's number but it all depends on how the second half goes."
He further said that in 2019, Mercedes-Benz is completing 25 years in India and this milestone will be marked with a product and service offensive.
Commenting on the AMG performance range, Schwenk said in terms of growth rate, it has been clocking higher but the "absolute volumes are still small".The strategy for Mercedes-AMG is to expand the performance segment by introducing "high pedigree products with sensual design, which is sure to lure customers and fans of the brand in India", he added.The newly launched two-door AMG C 43 4MATIC Coupé is powered by a three-litre V6 petrol engine, producing 287 kW of power and 520 Nm of torque, which accelerates the vehicle from standstill to 100 km per hour in 4.7 seconds.
This is the second product introduction by the company after the launch of V-Class in January out of the total 10 new products planned for the year.Schwenk said the company has been successful with its AMG product strategy in India, which comprises a wide array of performance cars under the 43, 45, 63 and the GT ranges.With the launch of this latest AMG, Mercedes-Benz India now has over 15 AMG performance cars in its portfolio.This is the first time that Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC Coupé is being launched in India.