Mercedes India sales fall by 10%, loses top position to BMW

During 2009, Mercedes India's car sales fell by over 10% and it lost leadership position to rival German automaker BMW

German luxury car maker Mercedes on Monday said that it has lost leadership position in the premium segment in India to rival BMW and reported a decline of 10.4% in sales in the country for the last year.

However, the company is expecting a double-digit growth during this year on the back of a host of new launches.

"We are behind BMW in 2009 because of limited availability of our E-Class car. I don't want to focus on leadership. We want to have a profitable growth," Mercedes Benz India managing director and chief executive Wilfried Aulbur told reporters.

The company sold 3,247 units in 2009 against 3,625 units in 2008 in India, he added. Rival BMW sold 3,619 units in 2009. "We see a very strong growth in 2010 and it will be a blockbuster year for us. We are very bullish and we expect it will be a high double-digit growth," Mr Aulbur said.

When asked if the company would try to push its sales by offering discounts on its models to overtake BMW, Mr Aulbur said, "The focus is on profitable growth, overall discount is detrimental and it is not our focus. Just to generate volumes is not a good strategy."

The company today launched a new version of its luxury sedan S-Class and sports utility vehicle GL in the country priced at Rs95 lakh and Rs64 lakh respectively.

"The S500L will be assembled at our plant and it will be the most expensive luxury sedan ever produced in India. We will import the GL350CI as a completely built unit," Mr Aulbur said.

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