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Last Updated : Sep 25, 2018 04:26 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

To America, with love: Mercedes-Benz lines up made-in-India GLC for export

A left hand drive version of the best-selling, mid-range sport utility vehicle will highlight the increasing preference among car makers to make India a manufacturing hub

Swaraj Baggonkar @swarajsb
 
 
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Mercedes-Benz has decided to move the production of US-specific models of its GLC sports utility vehicle (SUV) to its assembly lines at Chakan near Pune.

With this, the company has now become the first luxury car maker in India to export to the US.

Mercedes deciding to assemble the left-hand drive version of its best-selling, mid-range SUV only highlights India's growing popularity among global auto companies as a production hub.

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Late last year, Ford started exporting made-in-Chennai EcoSport SUVs to the US, thereby making the country the second largest consumer of cars made in India.

Bajaj Auto-made KTM and Eicher Motors-made Royal Enfield bikes are the other made-in-India products that are exported to the US.

Daimler's plant in Bremen, Germany, is currently responsible for manufacturing the GLC for the US market. The first of the India-made GLCs will arrive in the US next month.

Daimler decided to choose India over its plant in Alabama, even when it was already making the C-Class there. Notably, the C-Class shares its platform with the GLC.

A mail sent to Mercedes-Benz India remained unanswered at the time of publishing this article.

Mercedes has invested Rs 2,200 crore in its Chakan plant since building it in 2009. The factory has the largest production capacity for any luxury car in India.

The facility assembles nine models from knocked-down kits imported from Germany, using engines assembled by Force Motors.

While Mercedes' compact range, including the A-Class and B-Class, are imported to India, other  more expensive models, including Maybach S 560, S-Class and E-Class are made locally in India.

India is one of the only two countries in the world where the Maybach is made. The GLC was the last of the products to be chosen for assembly in India.

After a 2015 expansion, Mercedes doubled its Chakan plant's capacity to 20,000 units per year.

Last year, the company sold 16,236 cars and retained the crown of India’s largest luxury car maker. It was followed by BMW, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover.

In the January-June period Mercedes sold 8,061 units. Any import demand will substantially raise the production from the Chakan plant, which may invite further investment.

The doubling of capacity, three years ago, entailed an investment of Rs 150 crore.

Mercedes-Benz has also set up a research and development centre in Bengaluru, which is its biggest outside of Germany. The R&D facility is engaged in digitisation, simulations, data science, and autonomous cars.

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First Published on Sep 25, 2018 01:39 pm
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