'Stock market boom will double Merc sales'

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Bangalore, Sep 20: Spurt in the stock market, the real estate boom and creation of the modern class of affluent IT professionals will drive the sales of the German luxury car maker Mercedes Benz to double its sales this year, Wilfried Aulbur, Managing Director and CEO of DaimlerChrysler India said today.

Speaking to media persons before flagging off 'Mercedes-Benz: The India Trial' campaign here, he said the company, with its new plant at Chakran near Pune going on stream, was ready to cater to the booming luxury car market in India. To meet this demand it had taken up expansion of its production lines involving an investment of 50 million euros.

"In view of the good GDP growth in India we believe the luxury car market will grow and match this growth. Buoyancy in Stock Exchange, real estate boom and the new class of affluent people in IT sector will see our last year's 11 per cent growth in sales bettered," he predicted.

The company had notched up 5.5 per cent growth in 2005, 11 per cent in 2006 and in the first eight months in this callender year, it had already posted 22 per cent year-on-year growth.

"In '06 our sales had been 2121 units with E class taking a larger slice. We have sold 1681 units already this year and the market looks good to me. For the young IT professionals our C-class cars appeals most as it is sporty and this is where we expect significant growth in the coming years," he said.

Dr Albur said with the new investment the Pune plant would have a capacity to produce 5000 cars per year and a 'few hundred' trucks and buses. "We have been quite successful in luxury car segment and begun rolling out the trucks. Next you will see Mercedes-Benz buses on the Indian roads. We are eyeing the inter-city services where our Sutlej buses will prove to be best mode of transport," he said.

The company would be soon rolling out Sutlej buses from its Pune plant. According to the CEO, the company would now be vacating its rented facility at Chikli near Pune that belongs to Tata Motors.

On local component in the cars manufacturerd in India, Dr Albur said the company believed in global supplies and the components manufacturered in its Indian facilities was being exported to its plants in Japan, Europe and the US. "The local value addition is in the body shop, motor, transmission and painting. For painting we have a tie-up with Tata Motors. In C-class the local component is nearly 50 per cent," he said.

The Mercedes-Benz: The India Trial came to the city today with a fleet of glimmering Benz cars zipping across the streets of Bangalore. This drive was flagged off from Pune on September 17 that covers a cumulative distance of more than 40,000 kms when it ends on October 10. The trial features the complete portfolio of diesel cars from the Mercedes-Benz stables in India. This include S-Class, C-Class, E-Class, M-Class, The Bio-diesel C Class and the Viano.

UNI

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