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MUMBAI : In an attempt to drive sales, Mercedes-Benz India Pvt. Ltd, the country’s largest luxury carmaker, plans to launch as many as 15 new cars in 2021, a top company executive told Mint on Wednesday.

“Our sales recovery in the December quarter last year was led by the festive season and we grew 40% over the preceding quarter," said Martin Schwenk, managing director and chief executive officer, Mercedes-Benz India.

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“To maintain this sales momentum, we plan to introduce 15 new luxury cars this year. We will start with this product offensive in the April-June quarter," he said.

The company said supply challenges from manufacturing units in Europe, from where the cars are imported as completely knocked down (CKD) or completely built units (CBU), have delayed the new launch plans to the June quarter this year.

Popular models such as the A-Class sedan and the GLA sport utility vehicle (SUV) were earlier scheduled for an Indian launch around the festive season. However, due to significant supply delays from Europe, the two models will now be launched in Q2 CY2021, Schwenk said.

The company said on Wednesday that due to covid-led disruptions, it sold 7,893 cars in CY2020, down 43% from a year ago.

Mercedes-Benz launched 10 new cars last year, which included six new models launched between June and November, to create new product-led demand during the festive season.

To be sure, the company has seen sales drop for the past two years.

Its sales dropped 10% in CY2019 to 13,786 units on the back of a liquidity crunch and shrinking economy.

However, hopeful of an economic recovery and sustained demand for luxury cars post the festive season, Schwenk is eyeing a 40% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in CY2021 and CY2022 to recover lost volumes.

“While supply constraints and delay in bringing new cars to the market continues to be a dampener for the company, we believe that with the sustained sales momentum and with the new product line-up, we would be able to clock 40% growth in CY2021 as well as in CY2022," he said.

“For some of our models such as the GLE and GLS SUVs, we continue to have a very strong order book and it would take 1-3 months to get these cars delivered in India as the supply challenges continue to exist," he added.

As part of its retail strategy, the company plans to continue focusing on its online sales platform, which contributed 14% of total sales in CY2020.

The company also plans to continue implementing lean cost structures that were first put in place during the covid-19 outbreak.

“We plan to carry forward some learnings from 2020 such as maintaining lean cost structures. We will maintain a close look on our profitability, including that of our dealers through the year," Schwenk said.

“While we will maintain our existing retail and service network, we are not planning to expand the footprint at this point in time," Schwenk said.

He added that the company will focus on ensuring dealer profitability across improved inventory management, reduced dealer stock and associated costs.

Owing to increased input costs and commodity prices, the German automaker plans a price hike of 5% across its model range with effect from 15 January.

The suggested price hike would translate up to 2 lakh for a C-Class sedan to up to 15 lakh for the imported AMG GT 63S four-door coupe.

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