Mercedes-Benz India has big plans when it comes to 2022, particularly in the EV space. Although the arrival of the EQS – the S-Class’s EV equivalent – was part of the plan, the brand has also announced that it will locally assemble the car, in a bid to boost the local, make-in-India production capabilities. While the brand hasn’t disclosed just how significantly that would affect the pricing of the car, the first locally-assembled EQS is expected to arrive during the fourth quarter of the year.
Big-ticket luxury cars en route
Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will be launching 10 models across the Mercedes-Maybach, AMG and EQ sub-brands, but the spotlight, for the moment, falls on the premium end of the spectrum which includes the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class limousine, the EQS and the Mercedes-AMG GT-R Black Series.
The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class serves as the brand’s internal combustion luxury flagship. Festooned with the “Mercedes-Maybach” emblem, it arrives on a long-wheelbase platform, Airmatic suspension with continuous adjustable damping, rear-axle steering and E-Active Body Control. The car comes hot on the heels of the GLS Maybach, which was sold out almost instantly upon its arrival in the country last year.
In fact, demand for luxury SUVs like the standard GLE and GLS is so high that the waiting period for these cars at present is roughly 6 months according to Mercedes-Benz India CEO Martin Schwenk. At present, the GLC is the highest-selling SUV in their line-up while the LWB E-Class remains the best-selling sedan. While the semiconductor chip shortage is the primary reason for the delay, the brand claims that the high demand for these SUVs across the world means they can’t make them fast enough. At present, Merc’s Indian has clocked over 3000 orders, making it the highest-ever order bank in its history.
The Maybach S-Class is a more conventional form of luxury, with a relatively traditional, if superlative form of propulsion – a range-topping, handcrafted 6.0-litre, bi-turbo V12 mated to Merc’s 9-speed automatic gearbox. The AMG-GT Black Series, represents the top-end of the brand’s AMG performance spectrum with a scarcely believable 800Nm of torque and 720 bhp churned-out from the same 4.0-litre Bi-turbo V8 found in the standard AMG GT (the firing order of the pistons has been reconfigured, with a flat-plane crankshaft). The car also gets a fixed-wing, mechanical spoiler and other weight-reducing, downforce-enhancing solutions making it a far more track-focused car than anything Merc currently produces. While not explicitly stating it, the brand also hinted at the launch of the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class later this year.
After becoming the first luxury car brand to change its retail model to a centrally-operated one, the brand continues to have the largest retail network for a luxury carmaker, with 94 outlets placed across 50 cities. For 2022, the brand has announced that it intends to establish more AMG Performance Centres across the world, while presently selling 12 AMG-badged cars in the country. The number and location of said AMG centres was not mentioned.
Focus on EVs and green energy
Mercedes-Benz India has also emphasised its intent to use green energy to the greatest extent, claiming that 2022 marks the year when 100 percent of its energy needs would be met through renewable, green energy sources (at its Chakan plant). The brand, which has made a Rs 26,000 crore investment in India intends to lead the charge in the green luxury mobility space, starting with the local assembly of the EQS. Essentially the car that will go on to supplant the formidable S-Class, the EQS’ local assembly will speak volumes of the subsidiary’s production capability as it comes with a bevy of highly sophisticated electronic features, including a glass-covered hyper screen dashboard and a range of powertrains that rivals that of the Tesla Model S, featuring a 107.8 kWh battery.
At present, Merc’s local assembly capacity has reached 20,000 units a year, although Schwenk says that they’re all set to increase the capacity given the high levels of demand. Having witnessed a 42.5 percent jump in sales as compared to 2020, Martin Schwenk has stated that he is confident of a “double-digit” compounded annual growth rate for 2022 – a year that’ll see Merc’s technological best arrive in India.