Mercedes-Benz has unveiled plans to take pole position in India’s luxury electric vehicle market to cement its title as the top-selling luxury car brand and keep ahead of rival Tesla.
As part of the plans, Mercedes will launch three electric cars in India this year, 2022 and will be the first company to build a luxury Electric Vehicle (EV) in the country.
Martin Schwenk, the country head of Mercedes disclosed that the automaker will also set up a fast-charging network nationwide and might also manufacture batteries domestically in the future.
“Now, we are really starting our aggressive offensive into the EV market. In the next five years, 25 percent of our sales (in India) will be electric. Our ambition is to lead the market in the electric side as well.”Martin Schwenk
The Driving Range of AMG ESQ
Meanwhile, Mercedes’ inroads come as EV rival Tesla recently put on hold plans to enter India due to high import taxes on EVs.
Mercedes will begin its push in India with an imported electric model of its AMG EQS 53 4MATIC performance car that it launched on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. This will be followed by a locally assembled, electric version of its flagship S-Class sedan, the EQS, and an imported, electric carrier later this year.
The AMG EQS will have a driving range of 580 kilometres (360 miles) on a single charge and be priced at around $307,000 (24.5 million rupees).
India is largely a small- and low-cost car market, in which luxury models make up 1 percent of total annual sales of about 3 million cars. The luxury EV market is even smaller and largely untested.
Mercedes, which already sells its imported EQC SUV in India, will be the first to assemble a luxury EV in the country, allowing it to price the car competitively over rivals because of a lower tax rate of 5 percent on locally built EVs versus 100 percent tax on imported models. This will give it an edge over Germany’s Audi and BMW, and a clear lead over Tesla.
To minimize concerns over range, Mercedes will set up 140 EV chargers nationwide, including ultra-fast ones that can be charged up to 80 percent in 40 minutes, by year-end, he said.
Schwenk stated that the company will also consider locally manufacturing EV batteries and other components if it starts selling ‘thousands’ of a model, though current volumes were too small to justify such an investment. “You need a certain scale to make sense. I will not exclude that for the future but at this stage, it’s not part of the plan,” he said.
Globally, Mercedes plans to invest more than 40 billion euros ($40 billion) by 2030 to develop battery EVs.
Schwenk expects India to align with the company’s plans of shifting to EVs in terms of speed and product launches.
“We will be in line with the global aspiration of converting to electrification because we believe we can be as fast, or sometimes maybe even faster, than some other markets.”Martin Schwenk