German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz expects India to be its fastest growing market globally, maintaining the feat that it had achieved last year as well, according to a senior company official.
Mercedes-Benz India, which had planned to launch ten new products this year, is delaying some of the launches, pushing it to the second and third quarters of 2023 (calender year) due to supply chain constraints with an aim to avoid further increasing the waiting period of its products.
"I still see India to be shining among all the other countries. When we see our global reports the growth is still there in India even in the first two months of the year. (It is) too early to call for the full year but if I have to go by the first two months results, it is quite strong and positive compared to many other markets across the world," Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director & CEO Santosh Iyer told PTI.
He was responding to a query on whether India can continue to be the company's fastest growing market globally. Mercedes-Benz India posted a 41 per cent growth with a record sales in 2022 at 15,822 units as compared to 11,242 units sold in 2021. Its previous best sales was achieved in 2018 at 15,583 units.
Iyer admitted that from a volume perspective, other advanced markets like the US, which have also come out of the Covid-19 impact, are much higher than India and even a normal growth there means a significant amount of volumes.
"But from a percentage basis, India still continues to show strong growth momentum, even compared to many of the Asian markets in our region also," he added.
On the domestic demand momentum, Iyer said, "It is quite strong for many of the car lines and we still have an order bank exceeding 4,000 cars." The company has decided to delay some of the planned launches due to supply chain constraints, he added.
"What we are doing is ramping up production. Therefore, we are not introducing new cars in this quarter. Out of the ten cars that we have planned for this year, in the first quarter we only did the E Cabriolet and now we are pushing other cars to quarter two and quarter three so that we can supply more cars," Iyer added.
He further said, "Long waiting periods may also lead to cancellations. Therefore, our entire focus is to have a very good first quarter with maximum cars being delivered to the market." On the market sentiments, he said, "Leads are up by 15 per cent compared to last year, but order conversions are taking a bit more time.
The waiting period actually is putting off customers also, to wait for six months to nine months. This, we want to bring it down to a realistic level of two to three months on an average." The company had launched its 'AMG E53 4MATIC+ Cabriolet' model priced at Rs 1.3 crore in January this year and stated that out of the ten new launches planned for this year, majority would be in the over Rs 1 crore price category.
Further, Iyer said the company is maintaining its target for a digit growth in India this year as well but whether it would be high or low double digit would depend on external factors such as interest rates and supply chain constraints. "The semiconductor topic is behind us to a large extent but in our case, the car trim parts, interior parts are still a challenge," he said.