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‘India story has just begun’

Reverses in the developed markets have made the company even more bullish in India and in a freewheeling chat with HT, Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of board of management, Audi said it may look at a premium small car for India. Excerpts from an interview Sumant Banerji.

business Updated: Jan 06, 2010 01:56 IST
Sumant Banerji

With a growth rate that is one of the highest in the domestic automobile industry, Audi is a story that has surprised even itself. Reverses in the developed markets have made the company even more bullish in India and in a freewheeling chat with HT, Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of board of management, Audi said it may look at a premium small car for India. Excerpts...

How is the industry doing globally, and is there still some sting left of the global meltdown?

In my view, we will start seeing the first positive signs in depressed markets in 2010 but there is some uncertainty on demand. I expect to see huge growth in China, some growth in the US and a more or less flat to slight growth in Europe.

How do you perceive India, which, although you have done well here, poses a number of challenges, being a very price conscious market?

We have done excellently well in India in the last few years but our story has just about begun.

Having sold 1,650 cars in 2009, we have a base to make a quantum jump and as we do that, more consumers will be aware of our brand, which would bring in more demand. In the long term, consistent growth with a good brand equity is what we are looking for.

In the last few years, there is a new segment of imported luxury small cars beginning to emerge. Volkswagen with its Beetle and Fiat with the 500 are already trying to tap into it. Are you interested in that segment?

As a carmaker, we are interested in whichever segment we can find takers if we have the products. We are developing a super mini series -- the A1 — in Europe and it is way too early to say if it will come to India. But we are looking closely at how the Beetle and 500 are doing here, and if this market develops, we are open to bringing the A1 here.

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