Giving a thrust to local manufacturing of luxury cars, automaker Mercedes-Benz today rolled out the Maybach S500 sedan from its plant here, making the facility on the outskirts of the city only the second outside Germany to produce the car.
Apart from the locally manufactured Maybach S500, which will sell for Rs 1.67 crore, the German car major also introduced the imported Maybach S600 in the domestic market, which comes with a price tag of Rs 2.6 crore. Both prices are ex-showroom, Pune.
Mercedes-Benz India's (MBI) outgoing chief Eberhard Kern said the Maybach S500, at Rs 1.67 crore, is the costliest locally assembled car in the country.
On the choice of Pune over other markets to locally assemble the Maybach, Kern said "this shows the amount of trust the group has in the ability of Indian management and engineers for making most luxury sedans.
"This will definitely give a big push to the government's 'Make in India' initiative. It also shows the proven prowess of India in manufacturing world class products."
Making both announcements, the outgoing managing director and chief executive also said that with this, Mercedes now assembles eight models at the Pune facility that has an annual capacity to make 20,000 units at its two assembly lines.
Between them, these four carmakers nearly control the 33,000 units a year luxury car market in the country.
Mercedes' list of locally assembled cars now includes the C, E, M, S Class models apart from the CLA, GLA and GL Class models besides the MaybachS500.
"With the launch of the Mercedes Maybach S600, we now expand the current range of the S-Class with the addition of a vehicle that sets a new benchmark for exclusivity and meets even the most discerning of requirements in terms of appointments. The Maybach is the most prestigious and exclusive offering from us till date," Kern said.
The car is 207 mm longer than the S-Class with long wheelbase, he said, adding that from the technical side, the Maybach S600 is "more Mercedes" and from the luxury side "more Maybach".
He said the car is pitted against only two models the Rolls Royce and the Bentley.
It can be noted that Mercedes has overtaken its compatriot and rival Audi to have the largest selling luxe car models.
While it logged 41 per cent sales growth in first quarter of this year over the same period last year, the second quarter was better with 42 per cent y-o-y growth.
Against this, the rivals have been growing at much slower pace. In 2014, the difference between Audi and Mercedes was only under 300 units, with Audi retaining the lead.
Kern, who is being transferred back to Europe after a three year stint during which time the company clawed back to the numero uno position in FY15, also introduced his successor Roland S Folger at the launch event.
Folger comes from Mercedes' Malaysian operations and will take charge from October 1.
Kern told PTI that he will be heading the processes for the Daimler group, which owns Mercedes-Benz and a clutch of other brands, and will be based in Belgium.
Kern, who will demit office on September 30, said India has been the most exciting market that he ever worked.
The Maybach S600 is the 12th model introduced by the company in the domestic market this year and it is slated to roll out three more before the end of December.
The company had said that it would roll out 15 models this year after having done 14 in 2014.
Kern said the Maybach S600, which is placed as the highest exclusive luxury saloon, has already been sold out till December, while booking for the locally assembled Maybach S500 begins today and will be available at all its 80 dealerships in 39 cities.
Mercedes has the largest manufacturing facility among the luxury carmakers with a capacity to roll out 20,000 units per year.
Recently, it inaugurated its second assembly line at the plant located at Chakan near here, with 10,000 unit capacity and built at an investment of Rs 1,000 crore.
Piyush Arora, executive director, operations, said the company uses up to 60 per cent of local parts for the eight models it assembles here but refused to share brand specific details.
He also said the company will continue to locally produce S350 and S500, which together makes one of the largest selling models for Mercedes.
Kern said these two models sell more than the rival brands put together and though refused to share exact numbers but said they are four digits.
He said the group had five years back decided to discontinue the Maybach as a separate brand and make it a sub-brand Mercedes.
Apart from Maybach, the other sub-brand the company has is the performance SUVs called the Mercedes AMG.
The Maybach S600 comes with a 6-litre engine and was first globally launched last year and was sold out within two weeks of launch announcement in the country.
Claimed to be the 'world's quietest production saloon', the Maybach S600 offers 12 airbags and a pouch for the rear seat belts, which is a first in the country.
It also offers an air balancing package, enhanced leg-room with leg support for rear passengers, magic vision control, split view, and the highest level of customisation apart from offering the highest safety standards with a rear seatbelt air bags and cushion bags, both first in the country.