German premium marques BMW and Mercedes-Benz have uncovered a unique tactic for the Indian market – selling “stripped out” variants and going down the “value for money” route. Bizarre? Read on.

Unlike in Europe, premium badge customers in India have very little say in customising their rides and choosing options. So it’s high spec at a high price, like in Malaysia. When BMW and Mercedes brought in variants of the 3-Series and C-Class without extras such as leather, sunroof, parking sensors, electric seats and high end audio systems, it was for the car rental market and no advertising was done. But word got around and private customers started to ask for these affordable premium cars, so this isn’t the ingenious marketing solution that it looks like but more of a fluke!

Marketed as “Corporate Edition”, the reduction of a few lakh rupees opens BMW/Merc ownership to customers that are shopping for high-spec versions of cars such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Skoda Superb and Nissan Teana. The bare Beemer goes for Rs23.95 lakh, Rs3 lakhs (about US$6,600) cheaper than the standard car. Expect to pay around Rs26.27 lakh for the base C-Class, which makes it a whopping Rs6.22 lakh (about US$14,000) cheaper than the high end version.

Stats from BMW confirm that in the three months since they started selling the 175 bhp/350 Nm 320d CE models, 305 units have found buyers, which is within expectations. Mercedes joined the base model party in April. Premium badged cars without much toys are actually quite common in Europe, where buyers get more freedom in choosing options. Do you think such variants will work in Malaysia?