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Old October 4th, 2012, 05:21 AM
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A Mercedes for under Rs. 20 lakh? Possibly

New Delhi: German auto major Mercedes-Benz today said it will look at introducing models, including the A-Class, priced below Rs. 20 lakh in its bid to regain No. 1 spot in the Indian luxury car market.

The company, which will complete launching of products aimed to drive volumes in India by 2015-16, expects 40 per cent of its entire product range to be priced below Rs. 25 lakh in the next 5- 10 years. It is investing Rs. 250 crore on new product line up till 2014.

"Yes, we are thinking in this direction," Mercedes-Benz India managing director and CEO Peter Honegg told reporters when asked if the company would introduce a model below Rs. 20 lakh category to gain volume.

"I will not eliminate the case that we will have a car below Rs. 20 lakh," he added.

He said the upcoming model A-Class in next year could be priced in this range. The company will also introduce a sports utility vehicle based on the A-Class platform.

Asked if the company will source smaller engines from French car giant Renault, with which the German firm's parent Daimler has a global association, for the Indian market, Honegg said the company may consider it in future although no decision has been taken yet.

Talking about its product plan, he said: "In the next 5-10 years, 40 per cent of our new models will be below priced Rs. 25 lakh... The premium segment, which is in the range of Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 30 lakh, is witnessing good growth in India, while the luxury segment above that is flat."

Mercedes-Benz India had lost its leadership position to compatriot BMW in 2009. This year, it is likely to slip to the third position, giving way to Audi India, which is expecting to sell over 8,000 units.

Honegg said the company will close the year by selling almost the same number of cars sold in last year.

In 2011, Mercedes-Benz's sales increased by 27.69 per cent to 7,430 units from 5,819 units in 2010.

"Globally our target is regain the number one position by 2020. In India, we will be fighting for number game much ahead of it. By 2015-16, we will have the entire range of products from premium to luxury in India and that is when we will look at competition again," Honegg said.

He said the company's present aim is to remain profitable in times of severe pressure from adverse currency fluctuations that has forced the firm to hike the prices twice by a total of 4-5 per cent in 2012.

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