Mercedes-Benz lost the number one spot in Indian luxury car sales to BMW in 2009 after several years. After six years, it has climbed to the top in the January-to-March period of 2015. It has dethroned Audi. Mercedes-Benz sold 3,566 units during the period. Audi sold 3,181 units (see table). Audi had launched three models the previous year. Mercedes launched 10 models. Audi was able to keep the lead in 2014. Mercedes came second. BMW was third. The Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover was last. Mercedes increased its sales by 40 per cent in the first quarter of this year, against 2,554 units the same quarter a year ago. Audi marked 16 per cent growth in the quarter, compared with 2,740 units in the same quarter a year ago. Mercedes’ new-generation C-Class, which was launched in the diesel version in February, clocked the best-ever sales in March since its India debut.
The preference for the sedan was closely matched by the E-Class sedan, which contributed significantly to the volumes in the first quarter. The latter remains the highest-sold luxury sedan in India, Mercedes-Benz said. As for the financial year ended March 2015, Audi remained the leader in the luxury car segment, with sales of 11,292 units, a growth of 12 per cent, compared with 10,126 a year ago. Mercedes sold 11,213 units for the financial year ended March 2015, with a growth of 18 per cent compared with a year ago. Eberhard Kern, the managing director and chief executive, Mercedes-Benz India, said, “Our growth in the first quarter is significant, as we had some of our key models on the wait list. These models include the S-Class, the ML-Class, the GL-Class, and the new CLA-Class. It is our endeavour to cater to this increased demand and reduce the waiting period for these models. The robust 40 per cent growth, along with other multiple sales records achieved in the first quarter of 2015, is an indication of our commitment to a strong customer focus." After several years of unchallenged leadership, Mercedes lost to BMW in 2009 when the latter began to aggressively push its products. BMW retained leadership for four years till the end of 2012. BMW did try to push its compact models, 1 Series and X1, into the market without much success. Thereafter Audi took over the top position and retained it for two consecutive years (2013 and 2014). But Mercedes, on the back of launching compact models and refreshes to its other bestsellers, replaced BMW in the second spot in the last two years. The fight will be even more aggressive this year when Mercedes-Benz has promised to launch 15 models (new models and refreshes) while Audi is slated to drive in 10 models. Mercedes is confident of finishing the year at the top spot as it ramps up capacity with investments of Rs 1,000 crore.