The electric vehicle foray by Mercedes-Benz will hot up the electric SUV space in the country
The electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) space is indeed hotting up with the country's largest luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz India exuding a strong intent to carve out its presence in India's nascent electric vehicle (EV) space with the recent unveiling of the EQ brand under which it announced plans to launch its first electric car - EQC Electric SUV in coming April. The move by Mercedes-Benz to hop onto the electric vehicle bandwagon wasn't exactly on expected lines, but is surely to crank up competition in the electric SUV space with the likes of Hyundai Motor India and MG Motor India already out in the market with Hyundai Kona and ZS EV with Tata Motors also all set to roll the Nexon EV SUV.
"There is a momentum for electric cars in India and with a strong government push and I have reasons to be optimistic. We want our EQ electric vehicle brand to develop an ecosystem that facilitates a reliable and at the same time an exciting electric mobility. All our products that will be rolled out under the EQ brand will go a long way in address the cleaner mobility needs of Indian consumers," said Martin Schwenk, MD & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India.
Schwenk, who took charge as Mercedes-Benz India MD & CEO on November 2018, elaborated on the electric vehicle roadmap for the future. "Our first electric vehicle - EQC will hit the market in April this year and we could decide on other electric vehicle roll-outs in 2020 depending on EQC response. As far as our long-term roadmap is concerned, Mercedes-Benz has drawn up plans to launch as many as ten pure electric vehicles by 2022."
But volumes of electric cars are not there at the moment in the Indian market, but Mercedes-Benz has done its homework. "Mercedes-Benz already has EV products globally right from plug-in-vehicles to battery electric vehicles, which puts us in a comfortable position, in terms of addressing requirements for electric vehicles in India. We are monitoring locally what customers want (in India) and we see a great deal of customer interest for electric vehicles. Of course, these products won't compete with mainstream products but the long-term picture appears promising, noted the Mercedes-Benz India head.
The Indian government has been doing its bit for adoption of electric cars. The slashing of GST from 12 % to 5 % as well as the move to allow global vehicle manufacturers to bring 2,500 units annually to India without the need to get homologated are steps in the right direction. "Of course, to come up with up products without getting homologated is a good step, but our plans to roll out electric cars was not depended on this. We are committed to carbon neutrality and Ethe CQ will kick off the next decade with a bang," said the senior Mercedes-Benz official.
The 2019 was a tough one for vehicle manufacturers in India, but Mercedes-Benz bucked the trend emerging as the country's largest luxury carmaker for the fifth consecutive year. "The last twelve months were difficult but we fared well - our fourth quarter performance was our best-ever since the time we arrived in India."
Schwenk believes the revival of the auto industry is very much on the cards. "The coming months will be a transition phase with the shift from BS IV to BS VI and pre-buying and price hikes could be the order of the day. I think the market will gain some stability and return to the growth path," he signed off.