Mercedes needs to decide if it will go with the sporty coupé-like appeal of the new CLA or the practicality of the A-class sedan.
The attractive-looking Mercedes CLA has been quite a success in India. It is the most popular car on the MFA platform which also underpins the A-class, B-class and the GLA.
But for the next-generation car expected to make it to India in 2019, Mercedes has a choice to make: does it stick with the sporty and coupé-like profile of the next-gen CLA, or does it go with the more practical A-class sedan that has more space for rear seat occupants?
This is a difficult choice for Mercedes to make as it has to evaluate what customers at this price point want. "Our product management team will do a detailed study. But we don't have that huge a volume of existing customers of MFA cars available, so we will take some time to decide," Roland Folger, MD and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, told Autocar India.
The all-new, second-generation CLA and the A-class sedan will share their underpinnings, and the team conducting the study for India will have to evaluate a number of key points. Also, a larger decision Mercedes needs to make is the differentiation it wants to maintain in its line-up, as the A-class may cannibalise sales of the popular C-class.
The carmaker is still assessing the potential of the cars for India. Folger believes it could take a year for the car to come to India after an official unveiling. The A-class is set to make its world premiere at this year's Geneva motor show, while the CLA will be revealed next year.
"It can't be soon enough. It also takes time because we locally assemble these vehicles," he stated, adding that the company will definitely try to deepen its localisation to get a more attractive price. "We would love to increase the localisation. It depends on the volumes and whether we get an Indian supplier who can produce these parts in relatively smaller numbers," he said.