NEW DELHI 25/NOV/2012: High import duty rates held back growth of luxury cars in India compared to other emerging economies, Mercedes Benz said on Tuesday. The German car major sought inclusion of automobiles in free-trade agreement talks with the European Union. The company drove in new-generation C-Class sedan, priced at Rs 40.9 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). At present, it has only petrol version, while diesel version is expected next year. \"Luxury is just 1% of the total car market in India and its growth has been impacted by high import duty,\" Till Conrad, head of Mercedes\' overseas region, told TOI. \"Duty here is very high, goes up to 160% on import of fully-built vehicles like SUVs.\"
\"The duty is very low in markets like Russia, South Korea and South Africa and this has aided a faster growth for brands like ours there. For example, from sales of about 4,000 units annually around nine years back, we moved up to 50,000 units in Russia last year.\"
Mercedes, which completes 20 years in India, sold nearly 9,000 units last year at a growth of 30%. Conrad said new models like GLA mini SUV, CLA sedan and just-launched C-Class will lead to a double-digit growth this year. Mercedes expects India sales to double to 20,000 units by 2020.