BMW Mini Cooper. Image courtesy: Reuters
At a time when car sales are sliding, luxury carmaker BMW is set to launch the British marque Mini in India at a starting price of Rs 25 lakh. The German carmaker will start importing the iconic small car within the next two months and open two flagship dealerships, in Delhi and Mumbai. BMW will bring in the entire range of the Mini - comprising its popular variants Cooper, Countryman, Clubdoor and the Cabrio. The top-end Clubman is likely to cost around Rs 30 lakh and come with a complete sports package and accessories.
The Mini is among the original British cars that heralded a new era in motoring in the 1960s, with its space-
saving front-wheel drive layout. Its smooth and sporty retro design has influenced a generation of carmakers ever since. The best-selling Suzuki Swift, for instance, carries forward the same design philosophy. But the original Mini continues to sell in large numbers. Clocking more than Rs 2.34 lakh units a year worldwide, it sells the highest in the US, followed by Britain, Germany and Japan.
"The Mini comes to India finally after years of hectic feasibility and surveys," BMW India President Andreas Schaaf said in an Economic Times report, adding the company will showcase the car in the Auto Expo in January 2012.
Any Takers for the Mini?
The Mini will drive into a market where luxury small cars, such as the Volkswagen Beetle and the Fiat 500, have not found too many takers. While Volkswagen managed to sell just 620 Beetles since its launch in December 2009, Fiat has sold just 100 units. Schaff, however, said the Indian market is changing. "We are selling close to 20,000 luxury cars annually and now the customers are willing to spend money on smaller famed brands. Mini perfectly fits into the definition and India is now a mature market for premium luxury small cars," BMW India president said.
The Mini will be joined by other premium hatchbacks such as the Mercedes-Benz B Class and the Audi A3 next year. Just as in the other markets across the world, the Mini will be sold as a separate brand, with an array of options for customisation, independent of the BMW's other cars such as the 5 Series, the 7 Series and SUVs such as the X5 and the X6.
"We plan to market it as a sporty car with iconic value. It will be a chunky and overtly masculine brand and positioned as a top-notch performer with high levels of customisation," Schaff said.
Author: Chanchal Pal Chauhan
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