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Benz remains upbeat on India

Special Correspondent

Will shift to its new unit in Chakan near Pune by early next year

— PHOTO: SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

SHOWCASING THE PRODUCTS: Sanjiv Sahajwala (right), Director, Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz India, and Suksham Singh, Head dealer franchise, Interkrafts, Kolkata, at a presentation in Kolkata on Saturday.

KOLKATA: Luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz India is upbeat on the market despite a slowdown in financed-sales, saying that it expected more of non-financed purchases and does not expect sales to get affected. “In 2009, no cutbacks at the plant level were seen,” the company said.

In the city at the company’s ‘Discover Your Star’ presentation that showcased all its models available in the country, Sanjiv Sahajwala, director, marketing and sales, Mercedes Benz India, said that between January and October, the company increased its sales by 47 per cent over the same period in 2007. “We do not anticipate this calendar year to be bad.”

Led by the C class model, the company sold 3,141 cars in the first 10 months of 2008, compared to 2,140 units in the same period in 2007. “We sold 350 cars in September which is the second highest selling month,” he said.

Pointing out that there has been no substantial cancellation, Mr. Sahajwala said that the company had worked out various innovative and alternative models to ease the customers’ burden at a time when institutional finance was drying up. These include extended warranty, better service and personalised technicians.

He said that while last year 70 per cent of the purchases were financed, between January and October this year, only 60 per cent of the purchases were financed. He said that although the company gave discounts for bulk purchases, there were no such schemes for individual buys. The luxury car market was expanding in India and against a purchase of 4,000 such cars in 2007, in 2008 between January and October, 6,500 cars were sold with the Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities proving to be good markets alongside the main metros. “The market has expanded for all three luxury carmakers — Mercedes, BMW and Audi”, he said. Mercedes Benz will shift to its new unit in Chakan near Pune by early next year with capacity going up to 5,000 units from 3,000 units now rolled out of the rented unit at Chikhali, also near Pune.

Besides cars, buses were also assembled at this unit where the company has invested Rs. 250 crore so far.

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