By : RACHNA TYAGI
Mercedes-Benz India, rolled out their first ever locally manufactured EV, the EQS 580 4MATIC, in India today, and to do the honours was Nitin Gadkari, Honourable Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Govt. of India. Not only is India the first country besides Germany, to manufacture the EQS 580 4MATIC, but the sedan also happens to be India’s longest-range EV. This technologically advanced EV will now be manufactured alongside other Mercedes series at Mercedes-Benz India’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chakan, Pune.
However, for Mercedes-Benz India, the EV journey had begun much before. “For us the journey started at the time of the EQC launch in Jan 2020, and questions around whether India is ready for EVs, and if there is charging in India, were all answered the moment we launched the EQC because the demand was significant,” says Santosh Iyer, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Mercedes-Benz India.
After speaking with several consumers, Iyer says, that within six months they were convinced that if they were able to get a car with a 500+ km range, a top end luxury product that could handle distances such as Bombay-Goa, Delhi-Chandigarh, etc, they would be able to see huge success and so they immediately got down to work. “We planned this entire project 18 months back, in the midst of Covid-19, and today, here we are realizing [it] and at a time when India is growing, [and] the market demand is strong, there couldn’t have been a better moment to launch a luxury, top-of-the-line electric car,” he says.
On the topic of how many units the company aims to sell, Iyer says, “The one indication I can give you is that we have localized the car, so we are looking at high triple digit numbers. We won’t localize the car for small volumes.” Iyer feels that it is too early to talk numbers. “Maybe we will share the details in a couple of months,” he says. “Today, we announced the price, we started the bookings also and we are confident that for sure, even though the EQC is the largest selling EV right now this (EQS) will outsell it by multiple folds because this is a locally produced car,” says Iyer.
But are consumers ready for sedans when SUVs seem to be the flavour of the season? “I don’t think there is an issue about sedans or SUVs when it comes to EVs,” says Iyer. “One of the key things that consumers want is ground clearance. With the EQS, we have the option of raising the vehicle’s height and also tagging it with GPS, so if you go to office every day, you can tag all the speedbumps on the way it and then when they appear on your way to office the next time, the car will just raise its height, so these are the kind of things that we have addressed,” explains Iyer. “What consumers are looking out for is tech. They want a fully loaded car, they want a hyperscreen, they want all the features and all that is present in the EQS. It is the next level of engineering and technology and there is absolutely no compromise there, and consumers are fine with it. We don’t see any specific demand for SUVs vs Sedans when it comes to EVs,” explains Iyer.
What’s next after MBUX, at Mercedes-Benz? “Connectivity will increase,” says Iyer. “We will be getting newer features and these cars will get many OTA updates. We’ll also come up with subscription models on some of these features so all of that is part of the plan, and we’ll soon be launching all those services in India,” reveals Iyer.
About Mr. Gadkari’s suggestions to the German car manufacturer, Iyer says that “On the EV side we will take all of his suggestions because we will be introducing more and more cars in India. On the fossil fuel side, globally, our strategy is to exit fossil fuels and transition to EVs, so we will be going towards the electric direction and not further optimizing the fossil car portfolio,” states Iyer.