Mercedes Benz has announced that it will start assembly of its SUVs, The GL-class and the M-class in India by next year.
In addition Mercedes will also start assembling the SUVs in two South East Asian countries-Thailand and Indonesia. The preparation at the three plants have already started and are going in full swing. Later on in the year, final assembly of the M-class using SKD kits will start at these plants.
The ML from Mercedes was one of the first SUVs to come to India but the arrival of other SUVs from its rival has hurt Mercedes’ badly which has been completely outperformed by its rivals in this segment. The Q7 from Audi has carved a niche for itself and is a segment leader by a considerable margin. Absence of a smaller SUV from Mercedes to compete with the likes of Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 and also in the segment below it that comprises of of Q3 and X1 isn’t helping Mercedes cause either.
Things though aren’t as bad as they appear, The GL class from Mercedes is a very big and comfortable SUV and commands respect in the market. The G55 AMG is one of the most powerful SUVs and is a potent off-roader. The launch of the new M class has also resulted into better sales for Mercedes and is helping it to recover the lost ground. It has started working on smaller SUVs, The GLA and The GLK and better results might be in store for it.
At present the C, E and S class are assembled by Mercedes at its facility near Pune in Maharastra. But Mercedes will, for the first time start the final assembly of the SUV models, The M-Class and the GL-Class outside the SUV parent plant in Tuscaloosa/Alabama, USA. Local assembly will enable Mercedes to price these car lower and in turn could mean better sales as the car will offer better value for money.