Mercedes Benz plans to launch compact car 'Smart' in Indian markets.
MUMBAI: German premium car maker Mercedes Benz is planning to introduce the compact car brand 'Smart' in the Indian market, and may depend on its global partners Renault-Nissan for support in India, said people familiar with the development.
The company had recently conducted a feasibility study of introducing the Smart-featured in the movie The Da Vinci Code-in the Indian market which includes both versions: the four-door Smart Forfour and two-door Smart Fortwo.
If the result of the study is encouraging, the company may launch the Smart brand, post-2014. "India is one of the countries where there's a very logical strategy to be made (on the Smart brand), with a good percentage of cars sold here are small cars.
It is a logical thought. I assume in the foreseeable future, we will come to that part of the world and discuss the possibility of rolling out Smart," said Dr Dieter Zetsche, chairman, Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes Benz.
Smart could be priced anywhere in the range of Rs 12-15 lakh. Mercedes Benz sells the Smart-badged cars at a more affordable price point, and are positioned below its smallest premium car 'A' class globally. A Mercedes Benz India spokesperson told ET, "It is too premature to talk about it.
India is a growing market and we are studying several models to bring them into the Indian market." Since the next generation Smart cars are being developed jointly with Renault-Nissan, Mercedes Benz is not ruling out the possibility of sourcing components and engines in the future from the alliance partners' plant in Chennai.
"We have to see the logistics --where are they located, do they already have plants, what would be the incremental investments to facilitate Mercedes Benz platform or engines. And If it offers any benefits, it can be explored," said the official on the sourcing aspect with Renault-Nissan in India.
The company could have developed the engine itself, but even Renault-Nissan wanted a compact engine and it made sense for both the partners to explore the possibility of developing the engine together so as to bring in economies of scale and reduce the cost which could help in overseas markets and India.
ET had reported earlier in March that Mercedes Benz intends to launch 10 new models over the next five years, which may see 3-5 compact brands in India. The A and B class, along with a compact SUV, is more or less frozen for the Indian market over the next couple of years, while the next two could be from the Smart brand.
Mercedes-Benz India's chairman, Matthias Luhrs, who is also vice-president of sales at the headquarters, had told ET that the compact cars will drive the volumes going ahead, and help the company regain its number one position in India.
Source: Mercedes Benz plans to launch compact car 'Smart' in Indian markets - The Economic Times