Mercedes-Benz retains pole position, sells 15,538 cars in 2018

Mercedes-Benz, India’s biggest German luxury car maker by sales, has retained its pole position in the luxury segment for the fourth year in a row. Sales at the Pune-headquartered automaker gr-ew 1.4 per cent at 15,538 units in December 2018 despite strong macro-economic headwinds in the second half of this year.

The maker of the popular C-Class and E-Class models has sold a total of 15,330 units last calendar year. This is also the second year Mercedes-Benz crossed the sales mark of 15,000 units annually for the second consecutive year in the growing competitive luxury car market in the country.

Rising interest rates, depreciation of the rupee and rising import costs had put volumes under pressure for the luxury car brands such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volvo in the second half of the year and weighed on overall growth. “We are satisfied with our sales performance in 2018 despite facing strong macroeconomic headwinds in second half, resulting in low consumer sentiment that posed significant sales challenges,” Martin Schwenk, managing director and CEO at Mercedes-Benz India, said.

The three-pointed star however made a strong comeback in the fourth quarter (October-December) and was able to achieve a year-on-year growth, he pointed out. “Our product offensive strategy combined with our carefully crafted customer service and financial programmes bore fruits and helped us in winning over more customers to the brand, than ever before,” Schwenk said.

Significantly, Mercedes-Benz continues to maintain a significant lead not only in India's luxury vehicle segment but also globally. The carmaker closed 2018 as the country's highest-selling luxury carmaker for the fourth year straight. In fact, it also has an around 40 per cent market share in the luxury vehicle segment, which is estimated to have sold a little over 40,000 units last year.

Globally, too, Mercedes-Benz was the best selling luxury automaker in 2018 with vehicle sales of 2,310,185 units, a year-on-year rise of 0.9 per cent.

In India, growth was led by the long wheelbase E-Class, which remained the highest-selling model for the brand in 2018. The carmaker also witnessed healthy demand for the C-Class sedan and the GLC was the brand's highest-selling SUV.

Taking the second spot in overall sales, the BMW Group sold 11,105 units in 2018 (including Mini), up 13 per cent year-on-year. Jaguar Land Rover India sold 4,596 units, its highest ever in a year, recording a growth of 16.23 per cent and Swedish carmaker Volvo sold a record 2,638 units, up 30 per cent, albeit on a lower base.

German rival brand Audi India is yet to announce its sales figures.

Mercedes-Benz is cautiously optimistic about its sales prospects in 2019 as the luxury vehicle segment continues to face a challenging environment.

This year the growth rates for both BMW and Jaguar Land Rover India dipped compared to 2017, a year in which they grew at 25 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively.