Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mercedes-Benz India 132 percent growth in October sales

Mercedes-Benz India achieves 132 per cent growth in sales in October'09

Mercedes-Benz India announced a sale of 325 units of passenger vehicles in October 2009. This is an increase of 132 per cent as compared to their October 2008 performance (140 units in Oct 2008) and takes their cumulative numbers to 2,640 units of passenger cars for the period January – October 2009.

“In tune with the rest of the market, 2009 was a slow start for us. However we have witnessed increased demand since the second half of this year and October 2009 is the continuation of this growth story.The new E-Class which made its debut end of September 2009 and has won hearts of customers with its bold looks and aggressive stance and has sold 127 units in October 2009,” commented Dr. Wilfried Aulbur, managing director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India.

The S-Class, the leading luxury vehicle from the Mercedes-Benz stable also registered very strong sales performance with 30 units sold in October 2009 (as compared to 6 units in October 2008). The C-Class has also added to the volumes netting 153 units in October 2009 (100 units in Oct 2008).

Debashis Mitra, director- Sales and Marketing, “Mercedes-Benz India offers the widest and deepest portfolio for customers; our network penetration is the deepest across the Indian luxury car segment. We have worked very closely with our customers to ensure that our products, service and the value proposition match their needs. October sales numbers are encouraging for us.”

Mercedes-Benz India sees lower sales in 2009

Mercedes-Benz India expects 2009 sales to be lower than the previous year largely because of lower availability of credit and also due to the effect of the global economic crisis.

The company sold 2,650 cars between January and October, said Wilfried Aulbur, Managing Director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India. In 2008, the company had sold 3625 cars. However, there has been a recovery in the sales of cars in the luxury segment, he added.

“In the first half of the year, there was a certain amount of cooling down because of the unavailability of credit,” said Aulbur. He said there has been a change in attitude and confidence is back, and the company should be seeing some good numbers. However, he declined to give a sales projection.

The car-maker has about 300 people in R&D centres in Bangalore and Pune. Aulbur said there would be expansion in this space next year that would lead to some employment generation. But he declined to share further details.

Aulbur was speaking at the launch of the E350 CDI BlueEfficiency model in India, which is powered by a diesel engine. The petrol variant of the same car that had been launched some time ago and the company has sold 130 cars in 45 days.

December price hike for Ford cars

Despite prices rising 4% in the summer, the car giant said devaluation of the pound was higher than 30% since 2007, and increasing customer costs was the only way to cover the shortfall.

Ford said the weakness of the pound was a "fundamental concern" for any UK business which incurred costs in Euros, and it had taken "strenuous" action to reduce costs before affecting customers directly.

From December motorists will have to spend between £250 and £500 extra on a Ford Ka, Fiesta, Focus, C-Max, Kuga or Mondeo, while an S-Max or Galaxy will cost £600 more.

Prices for Ford Fiesta vans will jump up £400, Transit Connect and Ranger models by £500, and it will be £600 extra for a Transit 1T. Focus RS and Transit 2T models will stay the same price.

Ford of Britain managing director, Nigel Sharp, said: "To combat the continuing weakness of the pound against the euro, Ford has reduced costs across its entire UK business, including personnel reductions in its central operation and across its dealer network."

Small is beautiful for Ford India

Ford Motor Co will launch a new car model in India every 12-15 months over the next five years, with its new Figo small car is set to drive a tripling of sales in 2010, its India head said on Tuesday.

The No.2 US automaker by sales plans to use India as a global manufacturing hub for compact cars, eyeing the country's low-cost facilities to grow in a segment that it expects will make up 60 percent of all global car sales in 10 years.

The small-car segment makes up nearly 70 percent of the 1.5 million cars sold annually in India, a growing market which is one of the few bright spots around the globe for the auto sector.

"If you want to be in the game here in India, you have got to be in that segment. If not, you'll be an interesting niche player, not a mainstream player," Michael Boneham, Ford Motor India's president and managing director, told the Reuters India Investment Summit.

"And Ford wants to be a mainstream player here."

Half of the small cars on Indian roads are sold by Maruti Suzuki Ltd, which is 54.2 percent owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp.

Apart from Ford, Toyota and General Motors have also lined up compact cars for the Indian market, and Volkswagen plans to launch a small car next year.

Ford has just 2 percent of the Indian market, selling larger cars like the Fiesta, Ikon, Fusion sedans and utility vehicle Endeavour, but sees that increasing with its run of new launches.

Boneham said he expected to sell 31,000 cars in 2009, and it would be "a reasonable expectation" for this number to triple in 2010 when the Figo will hit Indian roads.

Figo and other cars will be produced at Ford's plant in the southern Indian city of Chennai, which is set to double capacity to 200,000 units annually at a cost of USD500 million.

Early next year capacity at the plant will be expanded to make 250,000 diesel engines annually.

"Within a five-year period, we should be expecting to fill up the capacity that we are installing," Boneham said at the Reuters office in the Indian capital.

Ford will not further expand capacity for the next three to four years, and would instead invest in developing products and upgrading technology, he added.

Vehicles and engines made in India would be exported to markets in Africa and Asia Pacific, and Ford would decide next year how much they would export, Boneham said.

"It's not going to be a story about the growth in India, it's a story about the growth in India combined with using India as an export base," Boneham said.

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