Home / Features / Interview – Lance Bennett – “It’s the most recognised and valuable automotive brand in the world”

 

At the launch of the GLS, we got a chance to speak to the amiable Lance Bennett, Vice President (Sales and Marketing), Mercedes-Benz India. Here are the excerpts.

Interviewed by: Joshua Varghese

Car India (CI): During your time at Mercedes-Benz, what has been your favourite marketing campaign?

Lance Bennett (LB): I really enjoyed the “Star is Reborn” campaign where we launched the all-new SL. The event was held in the Jio Convention Centre, where we hosted a large number of journalists and more than 300,000 people streamed the event live. For the launch event we compiled a collection of the best SL’s in India, right back to the first generation. These were paraded in all their glory, each one a work of art, before the introduction of the all-new SL 55. The Mercedes SL was made famous in India in the 1990s with the film Dil Chahta Hai. It took some time, but we managed to track down the original car from this film. It had been repainted red and become unrecognisable. Our Mercedes-Benz Classic team restored it back to its original colour. We were very proud to have this vehicle at the event.

CI: When someone goes to buy a luxury car in today’s market that has more than a few options, what do you think makes them buy a Mercedes-Benz?

LB: It’s a combination of things. The brand is very powerful; it’s the most recognised and most valuable automotive brand, which comes from having a strong legacy. We invented the automobile and we continue to innovate and reinvent it. Be it luxury, safety, technology, fuel efficiency, latest technologies, we bring it to the market for our customers to benefit from and enjoy. Our involvement in Formula 1 has allowed us to innovate on the racetrack and the technology developed for the racetrack can be found in our production cars. Our heritage and success in motor sport also add to the appeal of the brand. Our designs have set new trends, they are elegant and classic, and stand the test of time. For example, if you look at the old SLs, these are not only engineering marvels, but works of art. A lot of people have an affinity and passion for Mercedes-Benz. It is one of those brands that is sung about in songs. No other car brands can make this claim and it’s because people really have a love and desire for Mercedes-Benz.

CI: What are you most proud of in Mercedes-Benz’s effort to become more sustainable?

LB: We have a fully holistic approach. Our Ambition 2039 goal is to be carbon-neutral. This includes the entire supply chain through to owning the vehicle and using the vehicle right through to disposing of the vehicle. One of the core messages from our CEO is ‘there is no luxury without sustainability’. I like the way that we live and breathe it. Whether it is investment in solar, using recycled materials in our manufacturing processes or mining the materials from old batteries to make new batteries et cetera. All these require significant investment but we are happy to do this because we believe in sustainability. I believe sustainability will become more relevant going forward and I am proud Mercedes are leading the way.

CI: What is Mercedes-Benz India’s current stand on hybrids and alternative fuels?

LB: Our focus here in India is on BEVs. With the hybrid technology, you are paying for two powertrains, electric and ICE, and we see the future is with pure electric. With high-capacity batteries which deliver a range similar to an ICE equivalent and high-speed chargers which allow you to fill 80 per cent of your battery in 30 minutes, then there are very limited compromises to owning a full battery electric vehicle. That is the strategy we are pursuing, not alternative fuels and hybrid powertrains. Full electric is our strategy.

CI: Which is your favourite Mercedes-Benz car?

LB: That is actually a tough one as I honestly have a few favourites depending on the activity I’m engaged in. If I had to choose one, though, it would be the GLS. I have a family. I enjoy the outdoors and road trips. It accommodates the family with ease, with plenty of space and in comfort, with plenty of luggage space. Safety is very important and with features like Pre-Safe, ADAS level 2 with emergency braking and nine airbags, I know my family are safe. My children love the rear seat entertainment on long journeys. The cabin is so quiet and peaceful now with the acoustic glass and additional sound insulation. If my children want to bring friends on our journey, then I’ve got an additional row of seats in the rear. And when I’m by myself, I really enjoy the 13-speaker Burmester sound system. Since I like the outdoors, I can take it off the beaten track exploring. This makes it the perfect all-round car for me. It does everything that I want it to do.

CI: Is there anything that you would like to tell our readers?

LB: This year is going to be a really exciting year for us with 12 new products coming. Fifty per cent of these will be our top-end vehicles, which are cars that, perhaps, your readers are really interested in, such as our high-performance AMG variants. Some really exciting brand-shaping products will be there also. For those who are interested in the electric space, we’re going to have three new electric cars too. All in all, I think there’s something for everyone and it’s going to be a really exciting and busy year for us. Lots for your readers to look out for.

Also Read: Interview – Rayomand Banajee – ‘We are committed to creating champions for India’

 

About the author: Joshua Varghese

 

Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight

 

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