How the GLS is driving Mercedes India’s top end growth

Mercedes GLS facelift and Maybach GLS

Mercedes-Benz has just completed 30 years in India. Over the years, luxury sedans have been the mainstay of the brand – the bread-and-butter E-Class, the C-Class and, more recently, the flagship S-Class. Mercedes, after all, has always been known as a maker of some of the finest limousines and sedans around. 

Mercedes India sales: SUVs now lead

What has emerged of late, however, is that the brand is also seeing a lot of success with its SUVs. The GLC is a bestseller, “the GLE is doing numbers that we absolutely didn’t expect,” says Santosh Iyer, MD and CEO of Mercedes India. And now joining the party is the full-sized GLS

Official numbers haven’t been released, but multiple insiders claim Mercedes has sold upwards of 2,500 units of the GLS SUV in the past year. While that figure on its own doesn't sound too impressive, factor in the average ticket price of the SUV and the real picture emerges. That’s not it; Mercedes India has also shifted upwards of 250 units of the Maybach GLS 600, and those go for at least Rs 2.5 crore, if not more. Put the two together and you get a better sense of what Mercedes India has been saying – that the top of its portfolio is on fire. 

Mercedes GLS sales: Lots of pull from Maybach

So what’s driving the success of the GLS, a luxury SUV that’s slowly but steadily made its way up the charts? The predecessor of the GLS and the original GL, launched here in 2013, wasn’t an immediate success. This was because the relatively plain GL went up against the massive and quite brilliant first-gen Audi Q7, which, at the time, ruled the roost. Subsequent updates saw the GL, and later the GLS, turn more luxurious on the inside and then Mercedes got a shot in the arm as Audi made the second-gen Q7 more compact (and greener) but less appealing to Indian luxury car buyers. 

What also drives demand for the current GLS is the Maybach version. “A lot of the pull for the new GLS comes from the Maybach GLS,” says Iyer, the aspirational appeal of the Maybach rubbing off on the GLS. What also works in its favour is that the GLS is suitably large, well-equipped and available with both petrol and diesel powertrains. “What we are also seeing is that many S-Class or Maybach owners are getting a GLS as a second car,” he adds. 

Mercedes India sales: Top end on top

A quick back of the envelope calculation also shows that Mercedes sold approximately 4,300 cars priced above Rs 1.5 crore. The success of high-end cars has also lifted Mercedes India’s average selling price from Rs 57 lakh four years ago to Rs 88 lakh today, according to the company. 

The success of the top end of the portfolio is so significant, Mercedes India has constituted an all-new team of senior management that personally look into these cars and customers. Iyer even says he dedicates a significant amount of his time to this team and these customers personally.

As ever, a lot of the luxury game is about retaining the customer, and keeping them happy and coming back for more, and it seems Mercedes India is doing a particularly good job in this respect – 50 percent of its buyers are existing customers.

Also see:

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS facelift review: Big in size, bigger on luxury

Mercedes India records highest ever sales of 17,408 cars, SUVs in 2023

Mercedes India confirms over 12 new cars, SUVs coming this year

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