India: The Next Frontier in the Automotive Industry - Mercedes' Vision for the Future
Ola Kallenius, the 53-year-old CEO and chairman of the board of Mercedes-Benz, is a unique individual in the automotive industry. Born in Sweden, he became the first non-German to hold the position of CEO and chairman of Mercedes-Benz in 2019, and also one of the first non-engineers to reach the role as he comes from a finance and accounting background. As Mercedes-Benz transforms from a producer of gasoline-dependent vehicles to an era of sustainability, connectivity, and electric vehicles, where American Tesla is dominant, Kallenius sees India as a key player in driving the next phase of growth and innovation for the industry. He believes that the future belongs to India, not only for its potential market for sales, but also for its vast tech talent at the Bangalore innovation hub.
Indian car market, which has grown to a global scale, yet remains relatively small for luxury automakers?
As a global market, India is rapidly growing for us. We were also among the first companies to begin producing premium electric vehicles in India. In 2022, the Indian car industry reached around 3.8 million units, with roughly 1% of that being in the upper-premium segment, where we hold a leading market position. I believe this segment will continue to grow, particularly with India's upward economic trend. As the upper middle-class and wealthy in India become more prominent, I expect demand for our Mercedes brand to increase. However, it is important to approach the market with strategic patience and not make assumptions based on other markets.
What is your opinion on electric vehicles being the future?
Climate change is a global reality and we must transition away from fossil fuels. Therefore, it is logical to use electricity as a form of energy for vehicles. In 2019, we set a goal for ourselves to fully transition to electric vehicles within 20 years and three product life cycles. However, since then, we have increased our ambition and announced in 2021 that all new vehicle designs from 2025 will be electric. We are moving from an electric-first approach to an electric-only strategy and accelerating our timeline. It is likely that we will achieve this goal closer to 2030, rather than 2039.
Exploring the Innovations at Mercedes-Benz's Bangalore Technology Center: A Cutting-Edge Look into the Future"
I was extremely impressed during my visit to our technology center in Bangalore, where the teams are working on the development of next-generation operating systems and other advanced technologies. As we work towards decarbonizing our engines, a major technological revolution is also taking place on the digital side, and much of this work is being done in Bangalore. We were one of the first companies to establish a presence in India when the automotive industry was still in its early stages here, and now we are deeply rooted in the engineering efforts in the country. The technologies developed in Bangalore are used globally in Mercedes vehicles, and it is a major contributor of brainpower to our company. In every Mercedes sold, you'll find a touch of India, and Bangalore plays an important role in the Mercedes-Benz brain.
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