It’s a fight between the Germans and the English on Indian soil. British marquee brands Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR), which set up operations in India last year, are looking to make room for themselves in the luxury car segment dominated by the German trio of BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
JLR, which was acquired by India’s largest automobile company, Tata Motors, in 2008, opened its second showroom in the country on Thursday but plans to have at least five more by the end of this year. It also fired its first salvo at its three main competitors, saying it will not start assembly operations in India as that results in a ‘fall in prestige’ in the eyes of the consumers.
“The Indian market sometimes behaves unexpectedly and when a car starts getting assembled here there is a fall in prestige for it,” said Rajiv Dube, president, passenger car business unit, Tata Motors. “Some of the brands here have become a mass
luxury brand (rather) than a class luxury brand. We are focussed on being the best rather than being the biggest.”
The German companies, especially BMW and Audi, have had a fairytale run in the last two years with high double digit growth. The companies are again looking at a substantial growth in 2010 led largely by an increasing number of cars being assembled here. And they don’t agree with Dube.
“Indian consumers know well enough about these cars,” said Martin Birkner, V-P marketing, Audi India. "What the customers are looking for is quality and top of the line experience and a full import or an assembly operation does not matter.”