Daimler has announced expansion plans on the Indian subcontinent. In the next two years, the German carmaker aims to release a total of ten electric vehicles as Mercedes in India, local media reports.
Mercedes is already heavily involved in SUV production in India, with the new GLC Coupe coming off the production lines in Chakan, near Pune. This stands to reason that this will also provide the basis for the electrification expansion there.
Regarding the concrete plans, Managing Director & CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, Martin Schwenk, told Fortune India: “In the next two years, there will be 10 electric vehicles. On one hand, we’re working on the product side and on the other, we’re working on market development. We also have an intent to improve the infrastructure. A lot of other brands are also coming up with electric, which triggers the customer. And they ask us—what’s possible in the luxury segment? We see a growing demand.”
However, much is still unclear, mainly as the decision came amid the Covid-19 pandemic currently gripping the globe. Schwenk indeed admitted uncertainty: “Nobody really knows how much impact coronavirus will have and for how long.” It is also uncertain whether the planned electrification will include new models or models specifically designed for the Indian market. It appears likely though that Mercedes will use its global lineup: “I can’t answer today which is exactly the car, but I can say that I’m very successful in a C and E class, I don’t see why it should be any different (for India),” Schwenk said.
The pricing will likely be typical for the luxury brand. Still, the executive added consideration for reselling cars: “We are also creating a structure in the used car market,” before adding that “you can become a Mercedes owner at a different price point”. It will likely take some time to establish such second-hand dealership structures and for the electric vehicles to become available on a used basis. Also, there wAS no word on how battery life cycles will be managed to ensure that a used EV remains competitive with newer ones.
The interview also mentions the fact that Mercedes launches a lot of SUVs and prompted Schwenk whether the company would be neglecting this model type. His answer was vague, but confirmed the German company would include at least one sedan in their lineup: “A lot of customers aspire to have a sedan-shaped vehicle.” Schwenk also clarified that the two types would provide the basis for Mercedes vehicle lineup as “the SUV leg is developing and is as strong as the Sedan leg”.
To wrap up the interview, the questioning went in the direction of diesel engines, which the German manufacturer continues to believe in: “We believe that diesel has a strong future, also in India. 75% of our portfolio, specifically in C class, E and S class, is where diesel is the engine of choice for many customers” This does not leave a strong impression regarding their electrification plans. Still, considering the massive market rollout planned, we will likely also see customer behaviour changing.
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