With the stock markets defying gravity, and disposable incomes on the rise, car manufacturers are rolling out luxury models. Revving up to hit the Indian roads this week is Maybach 62, the Rs. 5-crore flagship model from Mercedes Benz. The company intends to start booking for this costliest car, popularly known as ‘house-on-wheels’, soon after the Auto Expo ‘04.
Maybach 62 comes with a wide range of luxury trappings. The upholstery is handcrafted, and a 550hp bi-turbo engine that touches 0-100 in 5.4 seconds powers the car. Other features include a trunk and door that close electronically, reclining rear seats with electronically extendable footrests and everything the discerning driver/ passenger needs in terms of entertainment, communication and comfort – DVD player, television, refrigerator compartment and a cordless telephone.
What more could the luxury-car aficionado ask for? “Plenty!” says Hans-Michael Huber, Managing Director and CEO, DaimlerChrysler India. “This range of standard equipment leaves ample scope for individuality with a range of accessories from a made-to-measure luggage set to a sterling silver champagne flute, humidor and golf bag! For the workaholic, the business package comes with a notebook, printer and mobile Internet access.”
Luxury accruements aside, does Maybach 62 come equipped with safety features to beat the accident-prone Indian roads? “Yes, and these include the Sensotronic Brake Control, electrohydraulic braking system, Airmatic DC (Dual Control) electronically controlled air suspension, linguatronic voice-controlled operation, comand APS control and display system and the tele-aid emergency call system,” says Huber.
So, what made Mercedes launch Maybach 62 in India? Is there a market for such high-end cars? “Today cars have become more of a lifestyle statement; people now use cars to make a social statement. With Indians taking to the finer things in life, they now want only the latest from around the globe and that is the reason we are making a debut in this market now. It’s a calculated risk which should pay off – we are already seeing a good demand from individuals,” says Huber.
Of the opinion that mass media should only be used to make a statement and develop the brand image, the company plans to promote the car with a direct marketing campaign.
"Asia is very important market for us. India is very strategic and has the fastest growth rate after China. We will launch new products and upgrades here,” confirms Helmut Petri, Chairman, DaimlerChrysler India and Divisional Board Member, Passenger Cars Division, Worldwide.
No showrooms for Maybach 62 – it will be exclusively sold and serviced by DaimlerChrysler India. Technicians have already been sent to Germany for training and a Mercedes trailer will be shipped across to send the customer’s car to Pune for service or repairs. It will also have a specially trained direct marketing team that will brief potential customers about the car and get it exclusively put together for them in Germany. Priced upwards of that already stratospheric Rs 5-crore, the more luxury trimmings you tick in the options list, the larger the figures becomes!
The company expects 10-12% sales rise in 2004. “The net profit of the company dipped to Rs 34 crore in 2003 over Rs 38 crore in the previous year, which was largely on account of the exchange rate fluctuation. However, sales grew by 30% to 1,581 units in 2003 over 1,208 units in the previous year,” says Petri.
So what can we expect from Mercedes-Benz at the Auto Expo? “At this year's Auto Expo, Mercedes-Benz will showcase the all-new Maybach 62 and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, E-Class and C-Class as well as a wide range of CBU models like the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, M-Class and the C-Class,” says Petri.
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