India's largest premium car manufacturer BMW on Thursday said it will launch its premium compact car 1 series by the end of next year as it looks to battle a slowdown in sales and thwart intense competition from Audi and Mercedes Benz.
The launch, which will likely be BMW's cheapest offering in India, will coincide with that of Mercedes' own premium hatchback A class. At present, the compact SUV X1 at Rs. 24.5 lakh is cheapest BMW available here.
"We are interested in the premium compact car space and will launch the 1 series by the end of 2013. It will be assembled at our factory in Chennai," said Philipp von Sahr, president, BMW Group India. "We expect it to be one of our best selling cars here. It will command a premium price positioning but we will take a final call on it only during summer."
BMW has been the largest selling premium car manufacturer for the last 3 years and is on course for a pole position this year too. But it has hit a rough patch this year as demand for luxury cars dwindled.
BMW, however, said it will not discount its cars to retain that position. "Being number 1 in sales is important but its not the only thing," Von Sahr said. "We will look for more volumes but not by cutting prices. A premium manufacturer cannot go for discounts. We may lose out on volumes here and there but that is not a problem."
The writer's travel to Mumbai was sponsored by BMW India.