BMW aims to maintain its lead in the Indian premium car market through a slew of launches and strategic alliances. The German car maker kick-started its product onslaught with the launch of the 6 Series Gran Coupe last week. Priced at Rs 86.4 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi), this is BMW’s first four-door coupe in India.
Speaking to Jayati Ghose of The Telegraph, newly appointed president of BMW India Philipp von Sahr explains what it takes to remain on the top and why premium brands should refrain from giving discounts.
Q: While BMW continues to be the market leader in India, your competitors are rapidly closing the gap. How do you plan to retain the numero uno position?
A: India is one of the major growth markets for BMW and we are confident of maintaining our leadership in the premium segment through launches, dealerships expansion and customer delight.
We are also planning to assemble more products in the country at our Chennai factory to increase volume growth.
Q: India is a price conscious market and other players in the premium segment are giving discounts and introductory price offer to capture the market. What is BMW’s strategy in India?
A: We want to be No.1 and will continue to be so with sustainable growth and not through discounting. BMW is a premium brand and we do not want to dilute that perception by entering into price wars.
We are looking at a sustainable growth and premium price positioning. In order to be sustainable, we will increase prices for our entire portfolio from next year by up to 10 per cent.
Q: Apart from the 6 Series Gran Coupe, which other models can we expect to see from BMW?
A: We will drive in the next-generation X1 in January, followed by the next-generation 7 series in March and the premium compact hatchback 1 series to build volumes by 2013.
Q: How has BMW fared in terms of sales volumes in 2012 and what is your growth outlook for the next year?
A: This has been a difficult year. In 2011, we had sold over 9,300 cars and by October 2012 we sold over 7,300 units. There is growth, but it is not in double-digits like we had in the past few years. Therefore, we have to be prepared with new dealers and models to drive growth.
The outlook for next year is slightly better than the current year. Only after 2014, we expect the momentum to pick up in India.
Q: Will you expand the Chennai-plant capacity and the number of models being assembled there?
A: We have an aggressive plan to expand our completely-knocked down range in India. By April, the 7 series will be assembled in Chennai, which will be followed by the 1 series by the end of 2013. With this, the company will have six products (1 series, 3 series, 5 series, 7 series, X1 and X3) assembled in India.