German car maker Audi India is bullish on the luxury car segment, anticipating a double digit growth in the current year as well with new launches.
Last year, the growth was 101 per cent and the company expects a double digit this year, too. “But it will be difficult to predict how much the growth will be,” said Balbir Singh Dhillon, Brand Director, Audi India.
He highlighted that supply side constraints, chip shortage, China lockdown, delayed shipments, Ukrainian crisis, etc., are all posing a concern for the company. To a question on the current waiting period for new cars, he said it would be two to six months depending upon the models. The global situation he said was adverse on account of a host of factors and hope for things to improve in the second half.
Dhillon, who was in Kochi for the appointment of PPS Motors as the new dealer partner in Kerala, told BusinessLine that overall the luxury car segment has experienced growth with 18-20 per cent rise in the first three months of the current year. But the figure is still not comparable to the highest as was achieved in 2018, with a sale of 41,000 cars, while last year, 30,000 cars were sold.
The business figures in the luxury car segment in Kerala, too, are encouraging, with a 4-5 per cent growth for the company. “Kerala is a very strong market for high-end cars, thanks to the global exposure of customers” he added.
Asked whether the inflationary pressure in the economy is impacting sales, he said overall luxury car prices have gone up several times due to inflation, rising shipping costs, increase in commodity prices and weakening of the rupee, etc. This creates a dent in demand for luxury and non-luxury vehicles, which is posing both a challenge as well as an opportunity.
The company is also in the process of opening Audi Approved Plus, the pre-owned car showrooms. From seven showrooms beginning 2020, the number is expected to touch 20 by the end of the year.
Last year, Audi launched 9 new cars in the Indian market, of which five are electric vehicles. This year, it carried out two more launches and there are more on the anvil, Dhillon said.
On electric cars, he said the customer response is very encouraging. Right now, five per cent of the cars manufactured by the company are electric, and this will increase to 15 per cent in four to five years. By 2033, Audi will become a fully electric car manufacturing company.
Infrastructure for electric vehicles is still developing in India. “We need to have high-speed DC charges on highways that will enable cars to be re charged in 30 minutes. Once the infrastructure is established, customers will have the confidence to buy electric vehicles”, Dhillon added.
The company is also batting to bring down higher taxes and registration costs for luxury cars. The tax on luxury cars is higher in India as compared with SE Asian markets.