The German trio – Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi – is having an intense battle in India. While the luxury car segment is not really big (20,000 units a year) yet in India, the three automakers are trying their level best to claim the number 1 position. India is regarded “the next China” , nobody wants to get caught napping. What this has resulted in, is an onslaught of vehicles. All three automaker don’t reveal segment wise sales, but are quick to claim that their cars outsold the others. That said, the German automakers will soon feel the heat from Volvo and Jaguar, which are slowly but surely building inroads in the segment.
While Mercedes-Benz has enjoyed a 13-year monopoly in the Indian market, BMW displaced it within two years of launch. Mercedes entered the Indian market in 1994 and started to sell the E-Class (W124). The C-Class and S-Class were launched in the 2000s. BMW easily displaced Mercedes by bringing its entire line-up of cars, prompting Mercedes to follow suit with the M, G, GL, R, SL class and AMG range of cars. Audientered in 2007, but wasn’t as aggressive as BMW.
When BMW launched the X1, it saw a drastic boost in sales. Audi was slowly but steadily getting a grip on the market and recently overtook Mercedes for number 2 position. The Q3 has worked wonders for Audi, and was sold out within a week of launch. Now Mercedes is languishing at the number 3 spot and is trying to revive sales with the launch of the B-Class. In the first quarter, Mercedes sold just 1,257 units, while Audi sold 1,908 and BMW maintained its leadership with sales of 2,088. Audi is on the heels of BMW, but BMW has the new 3-Series (F30), X1 facelift and 7-Series facelift lined up for launch in the coming months.
Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.