Mercedes lines up new investment and array of cars for India

By Aditi Shah

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Mercedes Benz will invest $24 million in India this year and launch over a dozen new cars with a focus on pricier models that have seen strong demand from young, affluent Indians, a top executive said on Monday.

More than half of Mercedes’ new launches in the world’s third-largest car market will be top-end vehicles, Santosh Iyer, managing director of the automaker’s India unit told reporters. The German luxury carmaker defines top-end vehicles as those priced over $180,000.

“There is an evolving customer profile, the demographics are changing today. There is a lot of aspiration from the young achievers to straight away get into the top end segment of luxury,” said Iyer.

Mercedes buyers in India are typically business owners but the number of purchasers who are salaried professionals have climbed by a fifth since pre-COVID times to account for 12% to 14% of buyers, he said, adding that the average customer age is 38.

Mercedes sold a record 17,408 cars in India in 2023, a 10% increase over 2022 on strong demand for its top-end cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

Iyer said “mini metro” cities are “future growth engines” and the company plans to open new service workshops in some of these places such as Udaipur, Amritsar and Agra.

Mercedes launched its GLS 450 SUV in India on Monday, with the gasoline version priced from around $160,000.

The India launches this year will also include new three electric models. Electric vehicles currently make up 4% of Mercedes’ India sales.

The $24 million will be invested in Mercedes’ manufacturing operations in the western Indian city of Pune and in launching new products.

($1 = 83.0725 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)