Cricketer Shreyas Iyer may not be part of the India T20 World Cup squad in Australia, but the Kolkata Knight Riders captain recently joined a different kind of limited list — that of buyers of the ₹2.45-crore Mercedes-AMG G 63 in India. Iyer also reportedly owns the Lamborghini Huracan supercar and the Audi RS5.
Affluent buyers like Iyer lined up to grab the latest luxury cars during the festive period, pushing most models to a stock-out situation and sending the luxury car market close to its all-time high of 2018.
The luxury car market is expected to close the year with sales of close to 35,000 units, making it the best since 2019, when a similar number of luxury vehicles were retailed. The peak of 2018 saw volumes of 40,340 shared between Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo.
Carmakers are confident of a stellar show in 2022, claiming to have a robust order book. During the nine months ended September, at 11,469 units, Mercedes-Benz, India’s largest luxury carmaker, sold more than the 12-month total of 2021. The Pune-based company has a backlog equivalent to 60% of its last year’s sales.
Santosh Iyer, vice-president – sales and marketing, Mercedes-Benz India, said, “We are almost at 2018 levels and 2022 will be one of our best years. This year’s sales momentum becomes even more pronounced, as we are facing significant supply challenges resulting in longer waiting periods for customers. We received 1,000+ new bookings during the festive season. We already have an order bank of 7,000 cars.”
While Mercedes-Benz would likely hold on to the top spot, fellow German giant BMW would finish the year trailing close second. During the six months ended June, BMW saw a 64% jump in volumes to 5,570 units compared to the same period last year. While the company did not share sales data for January-September, it claims to have 2,250 pending orders.
Vikram Pawah, president, BMW Group India, said, “During the festive period, we experienced great demand across the product range. A majority of products are on high waiting or are sold out and we are trying our best to match the huge demand. The average waiting period is currently up to six months depending on the model.”
Each of BMW’s three electric cars — BMW iX, MINI SE, BMW i4 — are completely sold out, the company claimed.
The major reason for the the fall in luxury car volumes since 2017-18, apart from the general weakness in demand, had been the dramatic erosion in sales of Audi. From reaching market leader position for three consecutive years and hitting a career-best volume of more than 11,000 in 2015, Audi sales closed at 3,293 in 2021.
But the company claims to be on a growth path this year. Balbir Singh Dhillon, head of Audi India, said, “Audi India has witnessed a 29% growth with 2,947 units retailed in January-September. We are operating with one of our highest order banks in recent times. We are working relentlessly with our headquarters to get additional allocations for India to fulfil this growing demand.”
According to IHS Markit. market size this year will be less than 35,000. Puneet Gupta, associate director at IHS Markit, said, “Pent-up demand in the network and waiting period will drive sales in 2023 also. The segment is driven by gig workers, new-generation businesses and startup owners. Booming in real estate and stock markets is further driving sales.”