German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz India wants 25% of its India sales to come from electric cars in the next four years (by 2027), and for that it will launch four all-new EV models in 8-12 months, a top global executive of the company told FE.
“Having 25% of sales in India coming from EVs by 2027 is a realistic target,” Matthias Lührs, head of region overseas, Mercedes-Benz Cars, said. “To meet that target, we will need new models and four of those will be launched within 8-12 months from today.”
Mercedes-Benz India is the frontrunner in the luxury EV space — it launched the EQC in October 2020, followed by EQS AMG in August 2022, EQS in September 2022 and EQB in December 2022. Of these, the EQS (priced 1.55 crore, ex-showroom), is assembled in India; all others are CBU (completely built unit) imports. The EQB is its most affordable EV (74.5 lakh), while the EQS AMG the most expensive (Rs 2.45 crore).
Globally, Mercedes-Benz has seven EV models — EQE, EQE SUV, EQS, EQS SUV, EQC, EQA and EQB — and more are being developed.
Lührs — who heads Asia (minus China), APAC, ANZ, LatAm, Africa and select European markets including Scandinavia — however, didn’t share which models will be launched in India, and whether or not these will be locally assembled. Santosh Iyer, MD & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, added that the carmaker is by far the leader in the luxury EV space. Although he didn’t share how many EVs Mercedes-Benz has sold in India, he said the EV parc is in high three digits. “Our EV parc — the cumulative EVs we have sold in India since the EQC was launched — will soon cross 1,000 units,” he said.
Almost all luxury car players have EVs in their portfolio.
Mercedes-Benz has a global goal of going all-electric by 2030-32, and Lührs said 2027 onwards in India also the luxury EV space for the carmaker could grow in geometric progression instead of arithmetic progression. “We might take 6-7 years to go from 0% to 25% EV sales share (from 2020 to 2027), but we could grow from 25% to 50% by even 2029, faster after that,” he said.
What gives him confidence is that the Indian luxury car buyer is tech-savvy and young, precisely the type of buyer who has an EV high in consideration set. “The average age of a Mercedes-Benz India customer is far lower than in more mature markets. For example, the average age of the S-Class buyer in India is just 38 years (the S-Class is an expensive car, starting at Rs 1.6 crore, ex-showroom), and the average age of the C-Class buyer is 35 years,” Lührs said. “There is a decent size young crowd in India that has the buying power and the interest in luxury cars, including EVs.”
The carmaker will also keep up the focus on petrol and diesel cars for the time being. In CY23, it has plans of launching 10 new models, including EVs and internal combustion engine cars like the new-generation GLC and the GT63 AMG e-Performance.
In CY22, Mercedes-Benz India was the country’s largest luxury car player, having sold 15,822 units, followed by BMW India (11,268 units) and Audi India (4,187 units). Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover and Lexus together sold about 7,000 units. As per industry estimates (all luxury carmakers don’t share sales data with the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers), about 38,000 luxury cars were sold in India in 2022.