Image courtesy: Reuters
In the pulsating race for leadership in India's luxury car market, Audi has opened up a slender lead on BMW, its German peer that has ruled the Indian luxury car space for the past three years.
Audi sold 759 cars in June, compared with BMW's 750, in a market that is clearly showing signs of a slowdown. Sales have hit a bump even at the top end of the car market, generally considered insulated from sluggish market conditions caused by high fuel prices and interest rates.
"It's the Audi effect, where customers are pulled by the strong brand that is reinforced by the largest line-up of luxury products offered in India. We did not target to be market leaders in 2012, but would like to build the momentum with new product offerings and stronger dealership network to sustain this newly-acclaimed feat in the long term," Audi India head Michael Perschke said. "It's a pleasant surprise. We were targeting leadership only next year," he added.
Audi's brave plans are in contrast with the dismal growth scenario in the Indian car market.
The mass-segment cars have already hit a tailspin with sales dwindling for most models. Luxury car sales also declined for most players in the first quarter.
Sales at BMW India, the wholly-owned subsidiary of German carmaker BMW AG, declined 12 per cent to 2,088 cars in Q1 against 2,377 cars in the same period last year.
The Gap Narrows
Audi fared better as sales in the first three months jumped 52 per cent to 1,908 units from 1,254 units in the year-ago period. The gap has narrowed considerably to a mere 180 cars that separate the two companies in the first three months of this financial year. Even Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, among the earliest luxury carmakers to enter India, is finding conditions tough. Daimler, which set up operations in India in 1996, saw sales down by a quarter to a mere 1,257 cars in Q1.
Audi, which toppled Mercedes-Benz globally in October last year, secured the second position in the Indian market in March this year. It had targeted leadership in the Indian luxury car market by 2015, but given the tremendous response to its aggressively positioned products such as the compact SUV Q3 and new A6and A7 Sportback sedans, it notched up enough numbers to bypass BMW in June.
Author: Chanchal Pal Chauhan
Source: The Economic Times
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