The Landmark Group, the parent company of Calcutta’s Mercedes-Benz dealership Benchmark Interkrafts, unveiled the latest Mercedes Benz electric vehicle, the EQS 580 4MATIC, in the city recently. The car is the first EV in the Mercedes line-up to be made in India at Mercedes-Benz India’s plant at Chakan, Pune. The EQS 580 is also the fourteenth ‘Made in India’ Mercedes model and the second EV from the company here.
The EQS is also India’s longest range EV, with a range of up to 677km (WLTP) or 857km (ARAI certified) and is the world’s most aerodynamic production vehicle with a drag coefficient of 0.20. It is priced at Rs 1.55 crore (all India ex-showroom). At the Calcutta unveiling, Paras Somani, executive and whole-time director, Group Landmark, spoke with t2. Excerpts.
What would you say is the state the car market in India right now?
I think the industry is in the best of times with most cars in high demand, that side is really, really good. The supply side has also improved a lot post-pandemic and now most of the cars are getting ready for delivery. So I think in the next two quarters we’ll see more deliveries happening.
So have the bottlenecks been removed?
Yes. Chip shortage is only about 20 per cent of our problem right now. Earlier the problem was also about the availability of ships and containers and now that’s also getting sorted out. So all that has eased deliveries.
What kind of response are you seeing in Calcutta?
In Calcutta we have been positioned for the last 10 years and our experience has been phenomenal. Every third luxury car that you see on the road is a Mercedes car sold by Benchmark Interkrafts.
Are sales back to pre-Covid levels?
By the end of December we would be ahead of that level. We would be back to 2018 levels I would say. That was also a good year. Supplies have really improved beyond our expectations.
Are you seeing any qualitative change in the market?
I think the space for personal mobility has taken centre stage right now. Before the pandemic people were talking more of shared mobility. But the pandemic changed a lot of thought processes and what we are seeing today is that the customer wants personal cars. People feel their families are safer in that space (than public transport).
What are the kinds of cars people are buying in terms of segments (within the luxury segment)?
We are seeing that the demand for cars that cost Rs 1 crore and above is the highest and we have the longest waiting list for cars which are above the Rs 1.20-crore mark. It is because the demand side has changed and customer behaviour has changed. Customers don’t want to hoard cash any more. They really want to enjoy life and make the best of their time. I call it the YOLO effect and it is in all age groups.
How has the response been to the electric vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz range?
The EQC was the first to be launched and the response to that was phenomenal and we are sold out for the year now. For the EQS, which is the first made-in-India EV from the company, we are already at 300-plus bookings. Response has been really, really phenomenal.