NEW DELHI -- Mercedes-Benz plans to start local assembly of its EQS electric sedan in India this year, part of a broader push to electrify its portfolio in Asia, Martin Schwenk, the brand's India chief, said.
Mercedes, which will be the first global luxury automaker to assemble EVs in India, expects to start selling the locally assembled EQS in the Indian market in the fourth quarter of this year, Schwenk told reporters.
The company started selling imported models of its EQC electric SUV in India in 2020 and has been developing an "EV roadmap" for the country over the past two years, though the plans are at an early stage, Schwenk said.
"Now we bring a car from an imported to a domestically produced vehicle because it has underlying volume and product potential," he said.
Sales of EVs, especially luxury electric cars, make up a fraction of total vehicle sales in India, chiefly because of low demand and high prices, as well as a lack of a local supply chain, including battery manufacturing.
Further, high import duties on EVs - India taxes fully built imported cars at as high as 100 percent - are a deterrent for companies. Tesla has been lobbying the Indian government over the past year to slash import rates on EVs to as low as 40 percent.
Schwenk did not comment on how much Mercedes would invest in its EV push in India but said the company has invested 4 billion rupees ($54 million) in the country over the past two years, taking its total investments there to $351 million.
Globally, Mercedes's parent Daimler plans to invest more than 40 billion euros ($47 billion) by 2030 to develop battery EVs as it prepares to take on Tesla, the company said in July.