The country's largest luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz India launched its ninth locally made model, GLC Class SUV, in Pune today within a record four months of its introduction in the country as an imported unit in June.
The new model comes in both diesel and petrol variants and is little over Rs 5 lakh cheaper than the imported version. Accordingly, the 2.1-liter GLC 220d entry model diesel version comes at Rs 47.9 lakh, while the 1.99-liter top-end GLC 300 petrol version is priced at Rs 51.9 lakh, in Delhi.
Launching the GLC, the firm's Managing Director and Chief Executive Roland Folger said the local production of the model has been completed in four months due to the "tremendous response" to the CBU version. And doing so in four months is a record for Mercedes India.
"We are enthused by the customer response to this dynamic SUV GLC, which has altogether redefined the segment and given the customers a refreshing choice. The GLC has already become one of our highest selling products, and we are very confident that it will replicate the global success here as well," he said.
"We normally go in for local assembly when the sales reach a certain volume. And the GLC Class has met that criterion so fast that we have to go for local production," Folger added.
Mercedes started local assembly way back in 1995, a year after its entry with the E Class. Since then, it has gone on to add eight more models out of which it had added three last year alone.
Other models that are made in the Rs 1,000-crore, 20,000 units per annum Pune plant include the Mercedes Maybach S 500, S-Class, E-Class, C-Class, CLA luxury sedans and the GLA, GLE and the GLS luxury SUVs. This makes Mercedes the largest producer of luxury cars in the country. Its imported portfolio includes the A-Class, B-Class, CLS, E-Class Cabriolet, S-Class Coup, GLC and the S 600 Guard. "Almost 80-90 per cent of our volumes come from locally assembled models led by the C and E Classes, which constitute around 40 per cent of our sedan volume," Folger said.
Folger said the SUV GLC is the last locally assembled model for this year, but the company will have four more CBU models. On the impact of the lifting of the Supreme Court imposed ban on high-end diesel car sales in Delhi and NCR, he said with all the models being available in petrol variants, the overall demand for petrol models has gone by 10 percentage points to 30 per cent of the total. "Earlier it was 80:20 and now its 70:30 for diesel and petrol," he said.
"But despite the lifting of the ban, people are still in a sort of wait and watch mode as the uncertainty about the diesel technology is still around. We hope the government clears this confusion," Folger said.
Piyush Arora, executive director, operations, said Mercedes-Benz sources almost 60 per cent of the components from around 20 suppliers from the country, including the city-based Force Motors, which supplies both diesel and petrol engines. "The rolling-out of the 'Made in India' GLC underscores our positive outlook for this market, as we look forward to introducing more locally produced vehicles depending on future market growth," Arora added.
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