Mercedes-Benz is perhaps the oldest name in the minds of the luxury segment in India. Having made its mark in the new cars category, the German luxury carmaker has also taken a plunge in the pre-owned car arm business in the country. Will the risk pay-off. The company feels so and so does the man who is driving Mercedes around on Indian roads...
Wilfried Aulbur, MD, Mercedes-Benz India, has been through both the smooth and tough times in the life of Mercedes-Benz in the Indian market. The latest bet to ensure a dominant future in the country is its entry into the pre-owned passenger car market. Aulbur gets candid with 4Ps B&M on the many future plans for the pre-owned car venture and the soon-to-be-launched car financing arm.

What makes the ‘Proven Exclusivity’ program different in the luxury car segment in India?
We have announced our entry into the used car market with the Proven Exclusivity program. Under this venture, we will ensure that there is a comprehensive evaluation and refurbishment criteria for the evaluation of the model, before any purchase is made by the company. We will be using scientific tools for audits and inspections. In fact, when a consumer buys a product from our pre-owned car arm, he will be entitled to a six-month long manufacturer-backed warranty. What we are trying to do here is to make the dream of owning a Mercedes-Benz even more achievable for the Indian consumers. Having said that, customers can even drive-in their existing vehicles and may drive out with their new Mercedes-Benz cars by utilising the trade-in route offered by the company. We will be not be accepting a car which is more than six years old under this program, which will also give a lot of confidence to the consumer who will buy our products. Just to give you quick global background about this program, it has been in existence since 2009 and currently operates across 35 countries.

Will the program be limited to the passenger cars segment or will you also think about extending it to the CV line a few years down the line?
Even globally, this program is limited to just passenger cars. Therefore, for now, we will restrict it to the passenger cars in the Indian market. The demand in the CV segment, especially in the luxury space is already very low. Therefore there is no use in introducing the second hand car schemes in the CV segment.

Can you throw some light on your marketing plans for the second-hand car arm?
We will follow the traditional model to market this business. We will be marketing this segment in a manner which is similar to what we have been doing in India so far. But you also need to understand that in the second hand car arm business, word of mouth works very effectively. Therefore, we will be relying on this mode to a great extent. We will try and ensure that when a customer comes to us, he gets a very good service, so that we don’t only get a loyal consumer in return, but also that he will spread good word about the program in his social circles, which will help bring in more customers to us. Our brand is huge plus and Mercedes, which has been in the Indian market since 1994 and has sold close to 30,000 units in the Indian market, continues to enjoy very high brand equity in the Indian market.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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