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BMW has the last laugh; Enjoys market leadership for second consecutive year

Since the time it began selling locally made 3 and 5 Series cars in India from its Chennai plant, BMW India has tasted increasing levels of success. In 2009 it managed to take over as the market leader in the luxury segment from Mercedes Benz, which was the indisputable leader for almost fifteen years. Last year, despite playing second fiddle to Mercedes  Benz for several months, BMW had the last laugh.

Even the models BMW planned to sell in limited numbers, ended up exceeding expectations. The Gran Turismo brought into India as a CBU  (Completely Built Unit) was projected to sell about 100 units. They ended up selling 150.

BMW’s 5 Series sedan was one of the key growth drivers last year.  The latest generation 5 Series arrived only in the month of June at dealerships, and the hot-selling entry-level 520d model wasn’t  introduced till November. In six months, BMW sold 2,403 numbers of the new 5 Series compared to 1,509 old 5 Series models for the whole of  2009, marking a 59% growth YoY.

The same phenomenon is observed with the smaller 3 Series Sedan which clocked 2432 units last year, a 110% growth to the measly 1155  units in 2009. Credit has to go to the affordable Corporate Edition models, which were stripped-down variants of the entry-level models.

Overall growth for BMW India in 2010 compared to 2009 was an astounding 73%.

Mercedes  Benz India, despite losing the crown of being India’s most preferred premium brand, has upped its game. The company recorded improvements in the important segment. It sold 80% more cars in 2010 than it did in 2009. In terms of growth percentages, the battle clearly is won by Mercedes  Benz.

The company’s best-selling model was the E-Class, which clocked  2,490 units, compared to 1,024 in 2009. Mercedes Benz launched the new  E-Class in the second half of 2009, and it has performed strongly throughout 2010. The

C-Class, propelled by the introduction of the new CGI engines and less expensive variants, did 2070 units (2009 = 1579 units) while the best performance was in the SUV category where Mercedes Benz did 523  units (2009 = 140units) and clocked a massive 273% growth. The recent additions GL, R and the steadily running M-Class are reasons for this huge leap.

There is a catch, however. Mercedes Benz India’s numbers are purely wholesale (number of cars dispatched to dealers). On the other hand, BMW  India only publishes retail numbers (number of cars delivered to customers). It’s very difficult to determine how many cars left Mercedes  Benz dealerships, but whatever that number is, it still isn’t enough to hold a candle to what the giant from Munich has achieved in just three years since it landed in India.

Shrawan Raja

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