Mercedes-Benz Finance and Mercedes-Benz India recently launched the ‘Unlock with Mercedes-Benz’ initiative, under which the offerings are attractive EMIs, lower rates of interest, first-year complimentary insurance, and soon. Prasad Salunke, the Head of Sales & Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Finance, believes that such innovative initiatives will help revive buying sentiments ahead of the festive season.
Were initiatives such as StarAgility and StarAgility+ launched as a response to the recent slowdown in the auto sector?
No. Star Agility was launched way back in 2013 to provide comprehensive ownership solutions to Mercedes-Benz aspirants beyond Star Finance (our standard loan product and structured loan). Star Agility offers 40% lower EMIs, assured future buy-back value of a customer’s car at the end of loan contract (this is pre-decided at the beginning of the contract), and options to upgrade, keep, refinance or return the car at the end of contract. In 2019, StarAgility+ was launched; it’s an enhancement of Star Agility and includes maintenance and extended warranty in the monthly payment.
During the current Covid-19 slowdown, what percentage of customers are buying cars via your own finance schemes?
One out of three Mercedes-Benz India customers finance cars with Mercedes-Benz financial solutions.
What benefits a customer can enjoy buying a car from Mercedes-Benz Finance vis-à-vis buying it via, let’s say, a bank?
As subsidiaries of Daimler, we (Mercedes-Benz Finance) closely work with Mercedes-Benz India to offer customers hassle-free service. We provide online pre-approval, online loan contract management portal, and a range of financial solutions, so that the customer can focus on choosing her favourite car and not have to worry about ownership solutions. Infact, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we provided flexible solutions to potential customers with the ‘Wishbox 2.0’ campaign, which provided EMI holidays, long tenure plans, and smaller monthly installments at the beginning of ownership.
The festive season is round the corner. Have you launched any initiatives to revive buying sentiments?
We have launched a joint campaign ‘Unlock with Mercedes-Benz’ with Mercedes-Benz India. Under this we are offering attractive EMIs (such as Rs 39,999 for the C-Class, Rs 49,999 for the E-Class and Rs 44,444 for the GLC), lower rates of interest (7.99%),first-year-complimentary insurance, and an option to upgrade to a new car model in three years.
Are luxury cars only bought via finance, or do you also see all-cash transactions?
In this industry, 75% customers prefer finance and 25% prefer cash. However, we are seeing a shift in customer behaviour as financing helps free up investment, which gives customers the opportunity to plan for other priorities.
How do you deal with customers who default on loans?
To avoid customers to be in this situation in the first place, we send reminders proactively. If the customer defaults, we have a one-to-one interaction with them to understand their situation and seek their commitment on payments. We work closely with our customers to secure their commitment on future payments prior to engaging any agencies to support in the collection process.
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