Mercedes Benz banks on cleaner diesel engines to extend lead in India post BS VI implementation

MUMBAI: At a time when mass-market automakers are exiting the diesel segment with the implementation of BS VI norms, India’s biggest luxury car maker Mercedes Benz is betting on Euro6D diesel engines that offer even better performance than prescribed by the new rules.

The engines offer lower particulate matter emissions by 80% and 50-70% lower nitrogen oxide than BS VI limits. Besides, they deliver 15-25% higher fuel efficiency over petrol engines and come without much price premium over BS IV diesels. By contrast, mainstream carmakers anticipate price increases of 10% on transition.

Speaking on the sidelines of a showcasing event for the first electric vehicle EQC, Martin Schwenk, MD of Mercedes Benz India, told ET that the company is pushing sustainable luxury, and the launch of EQ electric vehicle brand and introduction of cleaner diesel vehicles are steps in that direction.

“Globally, we expect electric vehicles including hybrids to account for 15-25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030. We will take a gradual approach toward cleaner vehicles in India. And our plans will evolve in line with infrastructure improvement, regulatory environment and customer expectations,” Schwenk said.

The company will launch the EQC in April this year as part of 10 new model launch plans for 2020. With the focus on SUVs, Mercedes Benz will be bringing in the GLE at the Auto Expo.

At the end of 2019, diesel vehicles accounted for 75% of the total sales of Mercedes Benz India and thanks to no change in the BS VI vehicle prices, Schwenk expects the share of diesel vehicles to continue at 75%. To be sure, Mercedes Benz’s German rival Audi has decided to exit the space and so has Volvo Auto India, shifting focus instead to petrol engines and plug-in hybrids.

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“MB India has the cleanest diesel portfolio in the industry. All our Diesel vehicles meet the stringent BS VI and also the Euro 6d TEMP regulations. The lab emission results of MB India BS-VI vehicles are much below the regulatory limits: NOx 50-70% lower than limit and PM 80% lower than limit, which may give us the edge,” said Schwenk.

Mercedes Benz ended 2019 with an 11% decline, but a revival in demand in Q4 stemmed the fall. The company saw its market share rising to 41% in 2019.


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