Mercedes-Benz wins Indian luxury car race despite SC red flag

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The German carmaker retains leadership position even after marginal fall in sales, while rival BMW grows 14 per cent in 2016

India’s biggest German luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz, has retained its leadership position in the country for the second year in a row by retailing 13,231 cars in the calendar year December 2016 despite marginal fall in sales.

This is the first time Mercedes-Benz recorded its first decline in sales in five years, hurt badly by the Supreme Court imposed eight-month ban on sales of diesel cars having more than 2-litre engines in Delhi-NCR belt on concerns over pollution.

The Pune-based company’s January-December sales of 13,231 units in 2016 were 2 per cent down from the year-ago figure of 13,502 units.

“2016 was a year of market challenges but despite facing such challenges, it is quite satisfying for us to have made the best of the opportunities that we had. We remain bullish on our outlook for 2017,” Roland Folger, managing director and CEO at Mercedes-Benz India, said.

The company officials said its sales would have closed with a double digit growth this calendar year if there was no ban in Delhi-NCR belt, which is the biggest car market in the country.

Rival BMW, India's third largest luxury car maker sold 7,861 cars in 2016, registering an impressive 14 per cent sales growth as compared to 2015 when the German car maker clocked 6,890 units sales.

Despite the growth, BMW managed to just beat its 2013 total of 7,327 units. Sales in 2014 and 2015 stood at 6,812 units and 6,890 units respectively.

“2016 has not been an easy year for the automotive industry and that applies equally to BMW Group India,” Frank Schloeder, president at BMW Group India, said. During the course of the year, developments in the Indian economy and policy framework shook the mechanisms of the auto industry, he added.

"BMW Group India was faced with challenges no less than any other automobile manufacturer and was confronted with strong pressure from the beginning of the year. Despite a challenging business environment, BMW Group India has increased sales and market share," Schloeder said.

michaelgonsalves@mydigitalfc.com

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