How common is Mercedes Benz in India

Daimler produces more cars for India

Mercedes plans to produce around 5000 vehicles per year in India from next year. Despite inexpensive small cars, demand in the premium sector is increasing in the booming market.

After the commissioning of a new plant in Pune, India, the car manufacturer Daimler wants to produce more high-quality cars in India. Around 5,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles could then be produced annually, said the managing director of Mercedes-Benz India, Wilfried Aulbur, in Pune. The new plant will allow further growth beyond that. In 2007 the number of cars sold rose by 18 percent to almost 2,500. In 2008 the target of 3,000 cars sold is expected to be exceeded. The new plant is to replace the old one, also located in Pune, at the end of the year. The official inauguration is planned for spring 2009.

Expand dealer network

According to Aulbur, the company is investing 50 to 60 million euros in the new location. The number of employees from currently 550 to 600 will continue to grow there with the production volume. "We will be gradually recruiting," he said. Because of the comparatively low number of units, according to Aulbur, it is not worth automating the plant as much as in Europe. In addition, Mercedes-Benz wants to expand its dealer network in India. In Pune, the company produces the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, E-Class and C-Class for the Indian market. Although inexpensive small cars are primarily in demand there, demand is also increasing in the premium sector, it was said.

At the beginning of the week, the company sent the first luxury coaches on their way to India. They are equipped with a chassis from Mercedes-Benz - the body comes from the Indian partner Sutlej Motors. As the standard of living of the Indians rises, so too, Aulbur explained. The luxury buses are to be used on long-distance routes between large cities and become an alternative to airplanes. The prerequisite is that the infrastructure on the ground continues to improve. Vehicles often make slow progress on Indian roads due to a lot of damage, construction sites and traffic jams.

Market leader Suzuki and Hyundai

After China, India is the world's fastest growing major auto market. Experts estimate that car sales in India will increase from 1.2 million last year to three to four million by 2018. The market leaders are Suzuki and Hyundai followed by the Indian Tata group, which together account for more than three quarters of new registrations. According to Aulbur, Mercedes-Benz has sold a total of 23,000 cars since setting up its own production facility in India in 1995. BMW and VW are also active on the Indian market: VW is currently building its own plant in Pune, which is scheduled to go into operation at the beginning of 2009. (dpa)