Mercedes grows younger!

Mercedes Benz India is the one of the first entrants in the luxury car segment in India and has enjoyed dominance over the years (more than 15 years to be precise!). The growing Indian market obviously bought competition and Merc was challenged its leadership position by BMW. Even Audi has emerged as one of the fastest growing brand in this segment.

This has literally taken Merc to re-think its positioning and the equity it enjoys in the market. BMW’s growth was primarily fueled by its craze in the youth and the feel of a sportiness amongst its models. And as the average age of the buyer in this segment decreased, Merc lost in the race. Most of the Merc buyers were in the 40-50 age group whereas BMW/Audi were the choice of the younger lot.

This took Merc on its heels and thus came Mr. Peter Honegg, who has recently taken in charge as the MD & CEO of Mercedes Benz India. The most crucial part of his induction was to imbibe Merc as an young, lively and a sporty brand. One of the foremost actions were:

  • *Bombarding a TVC of Legendary F1 Icon Schumacher driving the uber-sporty SLS AMG. The idea was instill and associate a RACING image for the brand. This would attract the younger aspirants in the luxury segment. 
  • *Mercedes also tried to leverage the status of being the oldest automobile brand in the world. This was also reflected in their advertisements where they projected to grow with the growing desires of the customers. It not only reflected their pursuit of perfection in every car that they manufactured but also connecting each car with their drivers. The urge to re-invent and the technical expertise was depicted by the amount of their patents worldwide (almost 80 percent of Auto patents is owned by Mercedes Benz!)     
  • *It is also planning to sell the tickets of the much-anticipated F1 serie which is to be organized at the Budh International Racing Circuit of Greater Noida. The tickets would be made available through the company’s dealerships.
  • *Mercedes Benz India’s Facebook fanpage has already garnered more than 41000 fans and it eminently projects MBI as a fashionable, sporty and an entertaining brand. 
  • *MBI has also inaugurated a star lounge in Delhi International Airport with SLS AMG on display.  
The company is now sure of gaining popularity in the younger buyers and also revive its position as the leading luxury manufacturer. The intention could also be seen in its fresh design of its models. 

From ‘Fluidic’ to ‘Kinetic’

Ford India today officially launched their Fiesta Ti-VCT and TDCi sedans in India. The company has priced the car at Rs 8.23 lakh for the base variant (petrol) and Rs 9.27 lakh for the base variant (diesel)The All-New Ford Fiesta is all set to engage and elevate customers with its eye-catching KINETIC design, first-in-segment features and intuitive in-cabin technology for communication on the move.
The C-segment would currently be the most exciting segment in the Indian Auto Industry. Customers are accepting the new offerings with open hands. Recently VW Vento overthrew Honda City as the best selling premium sedan, within months the leadership position was overhauled by the new fluidic Hyundai Verna. This symbolizes the openness & acceptance of the Indian consumer in terms of design. The new offering by Ford promises uniqueness in design, sophistication in technology and class-leading fuel efficiency. 
Ford always had the DNA of addictive driving and have been touted to be the best ‘Driver’ cars. The same was appreciated in Ford’s Figo and has turned around Ford India’s fortune within the last one year. Figo evolved as a strong competitor in the hatchback market due to its generous in-car space, excellent drivability and coupled with an unbelievable price. Ford expects to crack the same with the all new Fiesta.   

Ford has also started a new trend of personalization with Fiesta. I see an excellent opportunity of increasing sales in Accessories. The simple but apt additions of Leather Mounted Steering Wheel, Leather Gear Knob, Sporty Pedals, Side Graphics, Illuminated Scuff Plates, etc will not only add to the aesthetics of the car but also to the overall business per car.
One of the tabloids had mentioned that “Ford has taken the game to a whole new level” pointing to the New Fiesta. And I second the point.   

The Off-road Adventure Series – Chikmagalur (09-07-2011)


“Are you ready to get lost???” were the first words muttered by Bijoy Kumar, the head of Mahindra’s Adventure Initiatives while briefing the participants of the legendary Great Escape which is known to be the big daddy of off road adventures. The event took off from The Golf Club with the intent of capturing the toughest terrains with the wackiest routes. The plan was to sail away through the muddiest paths and seek the 4×4 expertise. But, the monsoon was on the opposite side. This year the rain god’s were annoyed and it hadn’t showered since a week! Hence, most of the journey was dry except some portions where we could find some slimy paths to test.

The Chikmagalur event received an overwhelming response from offroading enthusiasts, leaving everyone asking for more. This edition of the Mahindra Great Escape was conducted in association with JK Tyres, Bosch and Servo Lubricants (Indian Oil). The rally was flagged off at 10:00 am from Chikmagalur Golf Club, Chikmagalur. Iconic Mahindra SUVs such as the Scorpio, Thar, Bolero, Getaway, Legend, Major and Classic negotiated an arduous route of over 70 km. But the centers of attraction were the Thar’s which had participated in humongous numbers

While there were many winching points in the whole trail, it was seldom utilized except in one or two cases. The convoy had to pass through the serenest coffee estates, cover the most beautiful lakes and the narrowest paths of Chikmagalur. . It had over 75 vehicles from the Mahindra stable maneuvering the challenging route. The 70 km trail took almost 4-5 hrs to cover –mostly due to regular stops at frequent intervals. The lunch and refreshments were later arranged at the Golf Club.

The USP of the event were the 4WD vehicles of the participants. It was also a forum to just display the enigma and pride of owning one. These beauties were majorly MM540’s & CL series (modified). It also stood as an excellent platform to promote the new baby – THAR. It stormed the event with amazing attendance.  

Through the years, the Great Escape has acquired a reputation as one of India’s premier off-roading events with each edition seeing eager participation from die-hard Mahindra fans and customers alike. From the hills of Coorg and the tea estates of Munnar to the undulating sand dunes of Mandawa in Rajasthan, the Great Escape has blazed a unique trail across the length and breadth of India. This year the number of events is scheduled to double to 20 from 10 as of last year.  It has already completed 2 events – one at Shahpur and the other at Chikmagalur. The rest are 19 are to be held all across India right from Goa to Kohima. One can further track its calendar at http://www.mahindraadventure.com/index.aspx.

First initiated in 1996, the Mahindra Great Escapes have evolved into spectacular weekend events. The routes are meticulously chosen to ensure excitement without compromising on safety. All through the route, there are rescue vehicles to help those in need. In addition, there are experts along the route who are ready to guide the drivers through difficult terrain that may require skilful driving.

The event ended with an adventurous note and also left the masses waiting for the upcoming Save the Yak expedition, New Year Escape and more…


Snapshot – Indian Auto Industry Performance, June 2011


Highlights:

*The country’s largest car-maker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) reported an 8.8% decline in total sales to 80,298 units in June from 88,091 units in the same month last year. It also reported a 3.8% decline in sales in the domestic market to 70,020 units from 72,812 units in June 2010. Exports also declined by 32.7% to 10,278 units from 15,279 units in the year-ago period.
*Tata Motors reported a marginal 0.7% decline in total sales in June 2011 to 66,358 units  from 66,824 in the same month last year. The firm’s total passenger vehicles sales in the domestic market stood at 21,993 units in June, a fall of 20.92% from 27,811 units in June 2010.
*Toyota Kirloskar Motor reported 94.72% jump in its sales at 12,034 units during June’11. The company had sold 6,180 units in the corresponding month last year. During the month the company sold 5,002 units of mid sized sedan Etios, 737 units of its latest small car Liva, 629 units of premium sedan Corolla Altis, 4,665 units of multi- purpose vehicle Innova, 990 units of SUV Fortuner, 9 units of luxury sedan Camry and 2 units of hybrid car Prius.
*Volkswagen India reported 166% increase in sales during June at 5,397 units as against 2,032 units in the same month last year. The compact car Polo and the sedan Vento continue to be the backbone for the brand with a total of 5,136 units sold in June 2011.

*Car maker Honda Siel Cars India (HSCI) reported sales for June at 3,455 units, a decline of 24.81% over the same period last year. The company had sold 4,595 units in the corresponding month last year. The June sales comprised 2,802 units of its flagship sedan City, 361 units of hatchback Jazz, 175 units of premium sedan Civic, 103 units of luxury sedan Accord and 14 units of its sports utility vehicle CR-V.
*Auto-maker M&M reported 29.11 per cent jump in its total sales in June, 2011 at 35,584 units.
The company had sold 27,562 units in the corresponding month of 2010. Total sales of passenger vehicles, including Scorpio, Xylo, Bolero and Verito, stood at 16,053 units as against sales of 13,316 units in June 2010, up 20.55 per cent. Sales of the Verito sedan went up by over two-fold to 1,510 units during the month 

from 563 units in the same month a year ago.

*Ford India reported 8.44% jump in its sales for June at 9,145 units, mainly on the back of its small car Figo’s numbers. The company had sold 8,433 units in the same month last year. During the month, the company delivered the 1,00,000th Figo since its launch 15 months ago. 
* Skoda Auto India today reported a 69 per cent increase in sales to 2,611 units in June this year, as against 1,639 units in the same month last year.

*The country’s largest two-wheeler maker Hero Honda reported 20.12% jump in its sales for June at 5,12,244 units, over the same month last year. The company had sold 4,26,454 units in the corresponding month last year. For the April-June period of this fiscal, the company saw its highest-ever quarterly sales at 15,29,577 units compared to 12,34,039 units in the same period last financial year, up 23.95%. 

*Chennai-based TVS Motor company reported a 14% increase in total sales to 182,456 units in June, 2011, as against 1,59,688 units in the same month last year. Total two-wheeler sales grew by 14% to 178,633 units in June 2011, in comparison to 156,685 units in June 2010. During the month, total motorcycle sales grew by 5% to 69,859 units from 66,452 units in the same month last year. Scooter sales grew by 21% to 44,281 units in June 2011, from 36,742 units in June 2010. Domestic two-wheeler sales of the company grew by 11%, with sales of 155,296 units in June 2011, as against 1,39,905 units in June 2010.

*Two-wheeler maker India Yamaha Motor today reported 29.98% increase in its total sales in June at 36,595 units. The company had sold 28,155 units in the same month last year. In the domestic market, the company’s sales stood at 27,263 units as against 21,157 units in the same month last year, up 28.86%.