Mercedes Benz focuses on cleaner diesel engines to retain supremacy in India

Published On : 16 January 2020
By Tarashekhar Padhy

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 Euro 6 diesel engines that offer even better performance than prescribed by the new rules.

The engines offer lower particulate emissions by 80% and 50-70% lower oxide than BS-VI limits. Moreover, they give 15-25% higher fuel efficiency over gasoline power units and are available sans higher-cost premium over BS-IV diesel. By comparison, bigger automakers expect the price hike of 10% on the transition to the newer regulations.

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 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.

"MB India has the cleanest diesel portfolio within 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 the 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 from the fall. The company saw its market share rising to 41% in 2019.