Mercedes-Benz has confirmed its plans to go the CKD route with the ML-Class and the GL-Class. Both these SUVs from the German automaker are currently imported as CBU’s, leading to uncompetitive pricing. Mercedes-Benz will be doubling its plant capacity to 20000 units to accommodate for the increased market of luxury vehicles. The next generation ML-Class will be launched soon and will initially be imported, with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. In the later half of the year, Mercedes-Benz will offer a low cost, assembled in India ML-Class, which will be powered by a 2.2-litre CDI diesel engine, producing 204 BHP of power and 500 Nm of torque. Remember, the Mercedes ML-Class is currently not able to compete with the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, as both these vehicles are assembled locally, helping the companies in pricing them aggressively.
Mercedes-Benz also plans to go local assembly with its GL-Class. The Mercedes GL-Class is not able to compete with the segment leader Audi Q7 as the latter is priced quite aggresively. Audi already plans to go the CKD route with the Q7, so Mercedes will have to follow close on their heels as pricing seems to be a key for many first time luxury car buyers. This local assembly operations will have a vital impact on the pricing as the company will save on crucial excise duty. The luxury segment is expected to grow to 1.5 lakh units per annum by the end of the decade, a time when there will be increased competition from new players including Lexus and Infiniti.
The Mercedes ML-Class 350 CDI is currently priced at Rs. 64.16 lakhs, this is quite high compared to the BMW X3 which is priced at Rs. 56.77 lakhs for the xDrive30d and Rs. 52.76 lakhs for the xDrive 20d and the Audi Q5, which is priced at Rs. 57.65 lakhs for the 3.0 TDI and Rs. 51.21 lakhs for the 2.0 TDI. Audi also offers a petrol variant called the 2.0 TFSI which is priced at Rs. 50.58 lakhs. Volvo offers the XC90 D5 AWD at Rs. 51.98 lakhs.
The Mercedes GL-Class is priced at an insane Rs. 86.70 lakhs for the 350 CDI variant, while the GL500 is priced at Rs. 96.88 lakhs. The GL-Class looks quite expensive compared to the Audi Q7 which is priced at Rs. 67.55 lakhs for the 3.0 TDI variant and Rs. 83.36 lakhs for the 4.2 TDI variant. BMW’s X5 too is priced quite aggressively at Rs. 69.27 lakhs for the xDrive 30d and Rs. 90.64 lakhs for the xDrive 50i. The Range Rover Sport is an alternative to these German beasts and is priced at Rs. 95.15 lakhs for the 3.0 TDV6 HSE Diesel variant and the Porsche Cayenne Diesel is priced at Rs. 77. 44 lakhs (all prices on-road, Mumbai). Competition is severe in the G-Class segment with Toyota and Volkswagen offering the Land Cruiser (Rs. 1.09 crore for the base standard variant and Rs. 1.25 crore for the premium variant) and Touareg (Rs. 64.67 lakhs) respectively. Which one would you pick?