German carmaker Mercedes Benz Thursday said sales growth will take a breather from the high growth rate of last year as rising competition and a general slowdown in the market are pulling down demand.
The company, whose sales grew by 80% in 2010, said growth will moderate to around 30% this year. "Last year's growth was more than the normal and we do need to understand that it cannot be achieved every year. However, the growth targets for this year are no mean feat as this comes at a time when the overall car industry is shrinking and is likely to grow only in single digit this year," Debashis Mitras sales and marketing director at Mercedes Benz India, told TOI.
The company's sales in the January-August period this year have grown by 40% to 4,890 units against 3,495 units in the same period last year. Mitra said the luxury segment, though somewhat insulated from the general negative sentiment among buyers, has started feeling some pressure from the overall slowdown in the car industry. "We cannot deny the absence of the pressure. While enquiry levels at dealerships are still good, people are sometimes reluctant in signing cheques."
Mercedes is also being impacted by rising competition from fellow German luxury makers Audi and BMW. While BMW has already snatched the top luxury carmaker position from the company, Audi is also fast gaining ground. Mitra said Mercedes was talking steps to take on rivals. "We have been launching new products at regular intervals and these include the new C-Class and the SLK 350 roadster."
The company Thursday drove in its new four-door 3498cc coupe CLS 350 at Rs 67.67 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai). "We are a young and dynamic brand and these cars signify our aspirations to further this image. Our association with India's first Formula 1 race is also going to add to our charm with the youth."