The SUV rage has been constant across the globe as more and more carmakers have gone off script to make SUV/crossovers that meet customer demand. Even marquee brands like Lamborghini and Aston Martin joined the bandwagon, while Ferrari's FUV is also in the works. However, that does not mean sedans are obsolete by any length. In fact, the recently concluded 2021 carandbike awards stood testament to the same as the Honda City won the Viewers' Choice Car of the Year, whilst competing against some extremely popular SUVs. And Mercedes-Benz India MD and CEO, Martin Schwenk too agrees with the same.
Speaking exclusively to carandbike on the recent episode of Freewheeling with SVP, Schwenk iterated that despite the influx of SUVs in its portfolio and the rising global demand, the company still witnesses strong demand for sedans.
He said, "We have roughly 50:50 in India in terms of SUVs and sedan. And I always say that we have two strong legs to stand on. In India, the feeling of elegance and luxury combines very well with the sedan shape. Also the comfort of driving is obviously in our S- and E-Class, and also the C-Class, and that transfers to the A-Class Limousine. So overall, I do think there is space for this body shape [sedan] of a vehicle, and for us, we don't see any drastic shift. We have seen growth in the SUV segment, but at the same time, combined with the luxury aspiration that comes with Mercedes-Benz, I think it is a good fit also on the sedan shapes."
In fact, demand is so strong for sedans from Mercedes-Benz that the company had to fast-track the launch of the E-Class facelift in the country. Explaining the decision, Schwenk said, "We didn't want to launch that car [E-Class] that early. We were planning to do it later. But the previous model was launched faster, so we decided to push ahead."
The E-Class midsize luxury sedan is the brand's best-selling model in India and arrived a few days ago, earlier than its previously scheduled arrival. The global facelift was launched in the second half of 2020. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Limousine is the brand's new entry-level model in India and is on sale in both petrol and diesel options, along with the locally-assembled AMG version as well. The A-Class Limousine replaces the CLA and the A-Class hatchback that were previously on sale in the country.
However, Mercedes says its confidence in sedans has been amplified by the response the new-generation S-Class and the C-Class received respectively on the global front. Both models are slated to arrive in India as Completely Knocked Down (CKD) kits, but the launch timeline has not been confirmed yet.
Mercedes-Benz India is known to be quick with bringing its new models after the global launch but this year has seen multiple issues right from the pandemic, global container supply constraints to the shortage of microprocessors, all of which bring a level of uncertainty towards introducing new models across brands. However, the firm has promised 15 new models lined up for launch in 2021, at least seven of which will be AMG cars. Mercedes will also bring the second batch of the EQC electric SUV and the much-delayed new-generation GLA later in the year.