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CAR WARS

Mercedes


Bestsellers: C-CLASS & E-CLASS

Mercedes-Benz India, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Daimler AG, was the first luxury vehicle manufacturer to enter the Indian market in 1994, in partnership with Tata Motors. It used to share the Tata factory in Pimpri before it built its own manufacturing facility in Chakan in Pune. The German luxury marque offers the widest range of models among the luxury players in the Indian market and is currently assembling C-Class, E-Class and S-Class sedans in its plant.

In order to increase its market share, Mercedes is planning to assemble more of its models in India, including the M-Class SUV, the B-Class and the GL-Class, which will bring down the prices. The rest of the models are available as Complete Built-up Units (CBUs) and are shipped from its Stuttgart factory. Mercedes-Benz reached the top 100 most trusted brands of India published by the Brand Trust Report.

With 72 sales touchpoints spread over 31 cities, Mercedes currently occupies the third slot in the luxury vehicle market.

Entry in India: 1994

Calcutta dealership: November 2002

Model line-up: B-Class, C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, ML-Class, GL-Class, R-Class, SLK-Class, CLS-Class, E Coupe, E Cabriolet, SLS AMG, G-Class, and AMG versions of all models

Upcoming models: A-Class, GLC-Class, CLA-Class

Price band: Rs 32 lakh to Rs 2.20 crore

Dealer speak: “The sales figures talk for themselves. Every luxury brand has been selling well in Calcutta. Visibility of the cars is increasing as more and more people are using them. There has been a change in the mindset of the people. Earlier, people would park their luxury cars in their garage and bring them out only on weekends. Now they are driving them everywhere and everyday and are clocking more miles than ever before,” said Hiteswar Singh, CEO, Interkrafts.

Customer speak: “I bought a Mercedes C250 because it is a car that is a shining example of German automotive engineering, which gives excellent riding comfort and driving pleasure and I went for the C-Class because I prefer to be in the driver’s seat. And the dimensions of the car are perfect for the city,” said Gaurav Bhoopal, tea-estate owner.

Audi


Bestsellers: A4 and Q5

Audi is a luxury brand of the Volkswagen Group and has been selling in India since 2004 — 19 years after Ravi Shastri made it famous in India by winning one as the Man of the Tournament at the B&H World Championship in Australia — but it set up its own sales company for India only in March 2007. By establishing Audi India as a division of the Volkswagen Group Sales India in Mumbai, Audi made a clear long-term statement in the country with ambitious growth plans.

At present, Audi assembles the A4, the A6 and the Q5 for the Indian market in the group’s Aurangabad facility. It also plans to assemble the Q3 from next year. With 20 dealers in the country, Audi has overtaken Mercedes sales and is closing in on BMW as it aggressively pitches its crossover vehicles Q3 and Q5. With brand ambassador Katrina Kaif in the driver’s seat, Audi is tipped to wear the number one crown in the Indian luxe market.

Entry in India: 2007

Calcutta dealership: July 2010

Model line-up: A4, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q5, Q7, TT R8, RS5

Upcoming models: A3, S4 and S6

Price band: Rs 29 lakh to Rs 1.75 crore

Dealer speak: “The going has been good so far. But we have started feeling the heat mildly, the heat of the

general slowdown in the economy. We were not experiencing it earlier, the premium segment hadn’t been affected so long. However, even then, we will exceed our sales from last year and will post a growth,” said Manoj Mehta, CEO, Audi Calcutta.

Customer speak: “I bought an Audi A4 two years ago because owning an Audi was always a dream. We used to see Audi ads on television but could never buy because the Audi Calcutta dealership opened only in 2010. Previously, we could only buy Mercs, so when Audi opened a dealership here, I decided to buy the A4,” said Mukesh Thanky, businessman.

BMW


Bestsellers: 5 Series, X1

BMW India is a 100 per cent subsidiary of the BMW Group, headquartered at Gurgaon from 2007. It has its own manufacturing facility in Chennai and a parts warehouse in Mumbai. The plant in Chennai assembles the 3 series, the 5 series, the X1 and the X3 diesel variant. Currently, it has 25 sales outlets throughout India and will be increasing its footprint in 2012 to about 40.

The BMW Group also owns the Mini and Rolls Royce brands. Both Mini and Rolls Royce have entered the Indian market as has the BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle brand from BMW.

Despite entering the Indian market later than the Mercedes, the Bavarian company vroomed into the top position in 2011. It introduced the Sports Activity Vehicle, X1, at Rs 24 lakh, setting a benchmark among entry-level luxury cars in India. This year, BMW faces stiff competition from Audi, but continues to lead in the luxe category.

Entry in India: 2007

Calcutta dealership: April 2008

Model line-up: 3 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, X1, X3, X5, X6, Z4, Gran Turismo, M3 Coupe, M3 Convertible, M5, X6M, 6 Series Individual 7 Series Individual

Upcoming models: 6 Series Gran Coupe, 1 Series.

Price band: Rs 25.17 lakh to Rs 1.43 crore

Company speak: “BMW is the no. 1 luxury brand in India. Calcutta is one of India’s most historic and vibrant cities representing a great confluence between traditional values and modern society and hence is an important market for BMW. BMW India is successfully providing the unique BMW product experience and the best-in-class BMW services to our esteemed clientele here. Calcutta consumers strongly associate the BMW brand with exclusively authentic luxury products, which are distinguished by their emotional appeal, uncompromising engineering, innovative technology and outstanding quality,” said Andreas Schaaf, president, BMW India.

Customer speak: “I bought the 3 series, the 5 series and the 7 series. I think the 7 series is a much classier car than its rival Merc S-Class. It has better legroom and a better entertainment package. I know because I have driven both S-Class and the 7-series,” said Amit Sarda, businessman.

Jaguar Land Rover


Bestsellers: Jaguar XF and Range Rover Evoque

Jaguar Land Rover PLC is a British multinational automotive company headquartered in Whitley, Coventry, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Motors. The Jaguar Cars and Land Rover businesses were brought together as a single entity by Ford Motor Company in 2002. Ford had acquired Jaguar Cars in 1989 and Land Rover from BMW in 2000. In 2008, the Jaguar Land Rover company was established when Tata Motors acquired the Jaguar and Land Rover businesses from Ford.

Arguably the best looking marques on Indian roads, JLR also intends to woo the Indian customer with affordable prices. JLR started production of the Freelander2 in its Pune plant and plans to localise more models in the coming years. It has a total of 15 operational outlets spread in 13 cities and plans to increase its footprint further.

Entry in India: 2010

Calcutta dealership: March 2011

Model line-up: Jaguar XJ, XF, XFR, XKR and XKR-S; Land Rover Freelander2, Land Rover Discovery4, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover Evoque.

Upcoming models: Jaguar XS sedan

Price band: Rs 40 lakh to Rs 1.30 crore

Dealer speak: “This year has been slow compared to last year. With an increase in the lifetime road tax, customers are now having to pay Rs 6 lakh more for a car that is priced Rs 60 lakh since the tax is pegged at 10 per cent of the showroom price. This, with the custom duty hike, will adversely affect the market, which is showing signs of slowing down. It till take some time for the market to pick up again,” said Vinod Agarwal, MD, Lexus Motors, Jaguar Land Rover division.

Customer speak: “I bought a Land Rover Discovery 4 and a Jaguar XFR because I am in the mining business and there is a lot of offroading in the mines. I also drive a lot on the highways and the Land Rover has really served me well. I bought the XFR because I wanted a sports saloon for the comfort of a saloon and the feel of a sports engine,” said Indrajit Roy, mining enterpreneur.

Text: Anasuya Basu

Which of these four babies do you want to drive and why? Tell t2@abp.in