Mercedes-Benz India will introduce 10 new vehicles in 2023: Santosh Iyer | The Financial Express

Mercedes-Benz India will introduce 10 new vehicles in 2023: Santosh Iyer

For the 8th consecutive year, Mercedes-Benz continues to be the leader in the luxury automobile segment in India. Managing Director & CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, Santosh Iyer, talks about what the year 2023 holds for the company.

Santosh Iyer Mercedes-Benz India
Mercedes-Benz India recently launched the AMG E 53 Cabriolet at Rs 1.30 crore, ex-showroom

Santosh Iyer has now officially taken the helm of Mercedes-Benz India as the Managing Director and CEO. He speaks about what the German luxury automobile manufacturer’s 2023 ambitious plans are, what new cars are in the pipeline and what does the new year hold for him.

Mercedes-Benz EQS 580

The luxury market has been growing in India and has seen unprecedented growth in the last couple of years. How do you see 2023 turning out for you?

2022 was the best ever year for Mercedes-Benz India as we managed to achieve a high number of sales. We also improved our market share in the core segment. We also witnessed a 69 percent growth in the top-end level like cars priced above the Rs 1 crore mark. This translates to 22 percent of our sales coming from the top end. Based on this, we expect 2023 to see double-digit growth. 

The strategy for 2023 is based on some pillars like what more can we do to increase our growth as a luxury brand? To achieve this, we will introduce 10 new cars in 2023. We will enhance the seamless customer journey with our Retail of the Future model. Last year, we sold 2,000 cars online and now this platform will offer new features like a business customer can book online, add GST details etc. Earlier we could only show the stock of the finished products, but now we have the capability to show the next 12 months’ inventory. This platform will also showcase the expected delivery time to the customer online.

We are also focusing on the used car market and now one can put in the details of their current car and get the indicative price seamlessly. 

Also Read: Mercedes-AMG E 53 Cabriolet launched in India: Priced at Rs 1.30 crore

We will focus on stabilizing our current EVs like the EQS and the EQB by trying quickly deliver the vehicles to the customers. Our entire fast-charging network is now live from this month onwards and all 140 touch points are available. Out of them, 40 are high-capacity DC fast charging stations. 

Mercedes-Benz India manufactures Maybach, AMG and EVS, what next can we expect?

The beauty of our plant is the flexibility of the product line. We have the largest CKD (Completely Knocked Down kits) portfolio in India. We make have the flexibility of rolling out Maybachs, AMGs and now EQs, but stabilizing the production is very important and reducing the waiting period for our customers. For this supply chain plays an important part as they are coming from USA and Germany. We still don’t expect 2023 to be a normal year yet as there are still Covid-related uncertainties and geo-political issues. Yes, the semiconductor has reasoned out a bit, but the other two issues still remain. We still expect 2023 to be better than last year.

Going by the luxury car sales trends, are the SUVs still more in demand keeping in mind that your best-selling vehicle continues to be the E-Class?    

For us, 54 percent of our sales are contributed by SUVs and 46 percent are sedans. The sedan share would have been 50 percent if the C-Class would have been available for the entire year. As we launched the C-Class in May 2022, we lost out on the first four months of the year. In 2023, our best-selling SUV, the GLC will only be available in Q3, so the sedans may end up having a higher sales percentage. For us, we have seen 50-50 sales distribution between SUVs and sedans. 

Watch Video | Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 Review:

What is your budget wishlist?  

Policy continuity is very important for us. The government has done a great job in providing incentives for EVs when it comes to GST and the state governments have also done a lot for road tax not being there. This is a very fast enabler to adopt EVs. This should be there for a longer period of time till we have a big threshold on EVs. 

Also Read: Auto Expo 2023: Over 800 companies from 15 countries to participate in components show

What does 2023 look like for Santosh Iyer, the man in the hot seat?

We, as an organisation, have been in India for 28 years and I have been part of Mercedes-Benz for 13 years. My previous colleagues, who were leading Mercedes-Benz India, have always ensured that it is a stable business organisation. The core is and will always remain how we can push the envelope as the luxury brand in India by giving better customer experiences and how we can grow the market by using our financial service arm.

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First published on: 07-01-2023 at 16:15 IST