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Even as Elon Musk and India wait to see who blinks first, reports say German giant Mercedes-Benz, one of Tesla‘s biggest global rivals, is going bigger and bigger on Make in India.

The iconic German auto co has decided to locally make the S-Class Maybach and the EQS electric, two of its most cutting-edge models, here, ToI reported.

Mercedes on Thursday rode in the locally-assembled Maybach S-Class limousine, priced at upwards of Rs 2.5 crore (ex-showroom Delhi).

The company currently sells 25 models in the country, out of which 13 are assembled locally at present. These include models such as A sedan, GLA, GLC and GLS SUVs, C-, E- and S-Class sedans. The high-performance AMGs were added to its India inventory in November 2020.

The local assembly is done in its Pune plant (Chakan, in Pune outskirts) that started operation in 2009. The Chakan plan, which currently employs around 1,000, is planning to hire more people once sales pick up a little more.

So far, the company has invested Rs 2,600 crore in India operations. The company will progressively do more and more in India — both in terms of new models and investment — in order to keep costs competitive and ward off high import duties, ToI quoted Martin Schwenk, the MD & CEO of Mercedes-Benz in India, as saying.

The decision to go big on local assembly of its cars is a conscious call, Schwenk says, adding that it shows the company’s commitment to India and local manufacturing.

The scale of Mercedes’ assembly operations in India is quite significant, complete with a body shop, paint shop, and welding, he says.

The capacity currently available at the Pune plant can be scaled up as many as 40,000 cars annually, according to the company.

On the issue of Tesla, Schwenk said that Mercedes-Benz welcomes more competition, but added that “there should be a level-playing field for all”.

The Mercedes India boss minces no words on the vexing issue of Tesla versus India. While competition is always welcome, the Indian government should not make any special allowance to any company and should instead provide a level playing field to all, he says.

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