iconimg Wednesday, April 01, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 21, 2013
After outlapping all its competitors in 2012, German luxury car-maker Audi is aiming to sell 10,800 cars in India this year and become the first luxury car maker to cross the 10,000 unit mark in the country.

Its German arch rival BMW was the first to target that mark in 2011 but has failed to crack it till now. Audi sold 9,003 cars in 2012 growing by 63% in the process and is behind BMW by only 372 units. Unlike Mercedes and BMW, which are planning to launch their compact cars this year, Audi will not bring any new model this year but is confident of achieving a 20% growth with its existing portfolio.

“We aim to grow by 20% this year,” said Michael Perschke, head, Audi India. “It is not as high as last year’s 63% but our base is also higher. We are not even aiming for the number 1 slot. We know we are close and it is going to be a neck-and-neck competition with BMW each month this year but our target will be to achieve that next year.”

Mercedes and BMW, both had a tough year in 2012. While Mercedes saw its sales decline by 4%, BMW posted stagnant numbers. Both are looking at their compact cars, A class and 1 series, for growth in future but Audi is not sure whether the market is ready for them. Audi has been contemplating launching its A3 sedan, which is also available as a hatchback, but Perschke said it will hit Indian roads only in early next year. For now, Audi will begin assembling its compact SUV, Q3, from the middle of this year.

“I think the Indian consumer prefers an SUV over an expensive compact car,” Perschke said. “The line blurs between premium and not so premium when it comes to compact cars here. Even for the A3, I am more in favour of launching the sedan than the hatchback. There may be a market that will evolve someday but for now I think it is not very big.”

Mercedes, however, said its decision to launch the A class this year was based on sound strategic sense and not desperation to gain more volumes.

“It is not desperation that we are launching the A class here....it is a well thought out logical decision,” said Eberhard Kern, managing director and CEO, Mercedes Benz India. “It is a very successful global product that has won many awards. And it appeals to the youth....it will find a market in a country like India.”