New Delhi: Luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz India plans to increase its headcount by up to four-fold at the research and development centre in Bangalore in the next few years and will invest Rs150 crore together with its partners for expanding distribution network in the country.
“We will have between 500 and 1,000 engineers working for our R&D centre in Bangalore in the next few years. We currently have about 200-220 people working in the centre,” Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director and CEO Wilfried Aulbur told reporters here today.
However, he declined to give the specific timeline for increasing the staffing for the centre or the investment for it. Mercedes-Benz globally spends about 4-5% of its revenue on R&D every year.
“We will invest, together with our partners, about Rs150 crore for expanding our distribution in the country...part of this would also go towards preparedness for manufacturing a new car which we decide to bring to India,” he said.
Part of the Rs150 crore investment would come from the entities, it has partnered for setting up showrooms in the country.
The company has 12 dealers in the country and the number would go up shortly. “Land has been bought across the country for setting up showrooms,” Aulbur said.
He did not clarify how many showrooms would be set up.
The company is also looking for suppliers of components for the purpose of exports. “The demand is there....its just a matter of finding suppliers with the right quality (for producing components),” he said.
Speaking about the sales target in India for the calendar year 2009, Aulbur said, “We achieved 46% growth in passenger cars segment in India in 2008. We will not have that kind of growth this year”.
However, the country will keep growing at 6-8% every year and there will be demand for cars in the country, he added.
The company sold over 3,600 cars, 240 trucks and 15 buses in India last year.
It is also in the process of setting up a new vehicle manufacturing unit at Chakon near Pune which can make 5,000 cars and 1,200 commercial vehicles per year working in one shift.
The company also announced the launch of M-Class sports utility vehicles (SUV). The SUVs will be available in 3.0 litre diesel engine and 3.5 litre petrol engine variants, priced between Rs50-55 lakh.