German luxury carmakers jostle for space in Indian market, and how

Kirti Patil
Wednesday, 9 May 2018

A market that is still at a nascent stage compared to the global benchmark, India’s luxury car segment last week saw an unscrupulous battle between the two biggest brands - Mercedes Benz and BMW.

Pune: A market that is still at a nascent stage compared to the global benchmark, India’s luxury car segment last week saw an unscrupulous battle between the two biggest brands - Mercedes Benz and BMW.

Sales figures and graphs have always been the pitch where carmakers fought boardroom battles, but this luxury car segment has always been a niche space, or so we thought.

The war had become evident at this year’s Auto Expo in Greater Noida in February when both Mercedes and BMW tried to outdo each other and both conspicuously booked the same Exhibition Hall to display their upcoming luxury sedans and SUVs. One of them even paid extra to Auto Expo organisers to have their ‘event’ listed last for the day before BMW unveiled their Brand Ambassador Sachin Tendulkar in their pavilion. What happened later was a delight for paparazzi.

Not to be left behind, Mercedes video-graphed the frenzy and the virtual stampede that followed to collect the freebies doled out by BMW. Three months since then, the luxury car war came out in the open when the two German car majors lined up launches on back-to-back days.

While BMW opted to launch its second generation MINI Countryman at a glittering function at Bird Automotive in Delhi, Mercedes Benz chose to make it a race-track launch for its ambitious race sedan - the most powerful E-Class of all time, the AMG E63 - under the blazing sun at the Buddha International Circuit in Greater Noida.

If MINI Countryman was unveiled in the air-conditioned locales of the Bird Automotiv, AMG E63 S 4MATIC zoomed on the 5.125-km Hermann Tilke-designed circuit that has hosted three Formula One Indian Grand Prix from 2011.
There were too many takers for the AMG E63 drive on the best tarmac India has to offer, but the cramped schedule made it difficult for everyone registered to get the drive in the twin-turbo V8 engine that zooms from 0-100 kmph in 3.4 seconds.

Remember this jostle is for 1.2 per cent of the India’s total passenger vehicle sales whereas the global benchmark is around 10 per cent, while in China it is 13 per cent.

Mercedes Benz AMG E63 
 Set as a new benchmark in the performance saloon segment, the AMG E 63, aims to be a practical saloon equipped with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that generates a 612 horsepower. 
 The quickest car in the entire Mercedes-AMG line-up is priced at Rs 1.5 crore ex-showroom, all India. 
 This made in India car at the Chakan plant takes the portfolio of Mercedes-Benz India’s to 14 AMG models in the country. 
 The new E 63 offers the ‘drift mode’, which comes as standard thanks to the fully variable torque distribution. 

MINI Countryman Cooper 
 Locally produced at BMW Group Plant in Chennai, it is a five-seater Sports Activity Vehicle offering more space and comfort and is available in both petrol and diesel variants with deliveries beginning from June 2018.  
 It will be available in 5 colours: Island Blue, Light White, Chilli Red, Melting Silver, Thunder Grey & British Racing Green offered exclusively for the MINI Countryman Cooper S JCW Inspired. 
 The 3 variants of MINI are priced ex-showroom at Rs 34.90 lakh (petrol), Rs 37.40 lakh (diesel) and Rs 41.40 lakh (JCW Inspired). 

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