New Delhi: German luxury carmaker Mercedes- Benz plans to offer petrol variants for all its models sold in India by next month so as to align with the demand shift following uncertainty over diesel vehicles in the wake of pollution concerns.
The company, which today launched the petrol variant of its best selling SUV in India GLE 400 priced at Rs 74.90 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), expects sales of the petrol vehicles to go up to 30 per cent of its overall sales from the current 20 per cent.
After the Supreme Court lifted ban on sales of diesel cars and SUVs with engine size of 2,000 cc or above in Delhi- NCR subject to 1 per cent environment compensation cess (ECC), Mercedes-Benz said has it decided not to pass the burden to its customers and will absorb it.
"The introduction of the GLE 400 in petrol is part of our product strategy to strengthen our petrol portfolio in the SUV segment. We plan to offer petrol variants in all our products by September and give the customers an additional options to choose from," Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director & CEO Roland Folger told PTI.
Stating that the company has seen the share of its petrol portfolio rising constantly, he said the introduction of the GLE 400 will contribute to that.
"The ratio of diesel and petrol in Mercedes-Benz's portfolio earlier was 80:20 and currently with the introduction of more petrol variants we expect petrol's share to rise up to 30 per cent of our total sales," Folger said.
The GLE 400, powered by a 2,996 cc engine will be introduced as a CBU and the localisation will follow later in the year, he added.
Commenting on the lifting of ban on big diesel cars and SUVs, Folger said: "We are glad that there is some clarity, though interim, on the subject. This gives us confidence that growth will be back in the sector based on the positive sentiment that came from the decision. We have also decided not to pass on the 1 per cent ECC to our customers and we will absorb it."
He further said Mercedes-Benz believes that the introduction of the BS VI fuel is the best viable option to curb emission.
"As soon as the compatible diesel fuel is made available, we are ready to switch our portfolio to the BS VI standard, even as early as 2018," Folger added.
On the significance of the petrol GLE 400, he said: "With a growing penchant for SUVs among customers, we believe the introduction of the petrol version will further bolster our presence in the luxury SUV segment. For the first time, we are introducing the GLE with a petrol mill and this underscores our strategy of offering the right product for our growing customer base."