Reviving the iconic Beetle and the executive sedan Passat, and foraying into the fiercely competitive compact sedan and SUV segments are part of German giant Volkswagen’s strategy to jumpstart its sedate India presence.
Also in the works are upgrades and special editions of existing products, and a compact SUV somewhere down the line, Michael Mayer, director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, told HT.
“We need a regular model life cycle management. You need to bring something new to the customer,” Mayer said. The company currently sells Jetta and Vento sedans and the Polo hatchback in India.
In March-April, due to its thin product portfolio, it sold just 8,150 units, against market leader Maruti Suzuki’s 223,000.
Volkswagen plans to take on the Maruti Dzire and the Honda Amaze with an unnamed made-for-India compact sedan, Mayer said. “The segment is still young...We will bring the VW standards in the segment. It will be safest car in the segment, it will have strong diesel and petrol engines and the built quality of Volkswagen,” he said.
In the high-stakes SUV (sports utility vehicle) segment, where the Toyota Fortuner is head and shoulder above competition, VW hopes its Tiguan will make a mark against the likes of Hyundai’s Santa Fe, Honda’s CRV and VW’s sister firm Skoda’s Yeti. “The strategy to enter SUVs is to start with the Tiguan, set a benchmark, and then continue. VW is currently developing a suite of different size SUVs globally and we will choose the right version for India,” Mayer said.
Volkswagen has been increasing localisation of its products to become more cost competitive and increase exports from India, and plans to invest `1,500 crore make India a low-cost manufacturing hub for emerging and developed export markets.