On the sidelines of the rollout of the first locally assembled Mercedes GL Class in Pune yesterday, Eberhard Kern, Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz India, hinted that "one or the other" future models would also be assembled locally.
Established in 1995, MB's Chakan facility currently assembles five CKD models (C-, E-, S-, ML- and GL-Class). Till date, the plant has consumed a total investment of Rs 850 Cr. Mercedes is currently in the process of doubling the 100 acre plant's annual production capacity to 20,000 units. The expansion is expected to be complete by early 2014.
Mercedes has shifted its attention towards the MFA models to boost sales. The launches of the B- and A-Class have opened up a new customer pool for the German brand but they are being imported as CBUs.
We expect the CLA and the GLA to complete MB India's MFA lineup next year. Since these compact Mercs play a crucial part in improving sales, it makes sense for the company to adopt CKD assembly first for these two products.
Given that Audi has commenced local assembly of the Q3 (entry level Q3 S) and is planning the A3 sedan next year at an aggressive price, Mercedes could counteract by bringing the CLA and the GLA to India via the CKD route, after importing an initial lot of high-end variants for a 'launch edition'.