Audi India to complete product line-up with new SUV, sedan and sportscar launches in 2021

In an interview with Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head, Audi India we find out what the German automaker's plans for 2021 include. Dhillion also highlights how changing focus to digital platforms and augmented reality has helped the brand persevere through 2020.

By:Updated: Jan 09, 2021 10:38 AM
Audi A4 2020 facelift india launch in January 5 2021


We’ll complete the Audi India line-up this year

This week Audi India launched the new A4 sedan, one of its most popular cars. Priced Rs 42.34 lakh (ex-showroom), the A4 is being made in India at the company’s Aurangabad plant. “This year will see a host of new car launches, and with a well-established petrol strategy in place, we are now geared up to kick-off our electrification strategy in India,” says Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head, Audi India. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that the launch of the e-tron electric car is on the cards. Excerpts:

Audi India currently manufactures only two models, the A4 and the A6, in India. According to your website, the Q3 and the Q5 are not even on sale. By when can we see the Audi line-up ‘complete’ in India?

Last year, we moved our strategy from petrol-plus-diesel to petrol-and-electrified cars; this year, in addition to petrol cars such as the A4 we just launched, we will also launch electrified cars. We will launch new sedans and SUVs; we will have volume cars as also niche cars and sports cars, and will try and cover most of the segments this year.

Audi India displayed the e-tron electric car a year and a half ago. Why is there such a long delay in bringing the car to India?

The launch of the e-tron is on the cards. The success of this car also depends on the infrastructure—it should not happen that a customer buys this car and faces charging-related issues. We are trying to find out what all potential issues a customer may face once he or she buys this car (and how to sort these out), and that’s why the launch is taking some time.

While most luxury car companies have not released their sales figures for calendar year 2020, analysts argue the segment declined by up to 40% that year…

Luxury cars are mostly a discretionary purchase; these may not be the first car a person buys. Most buyers are from the business community, and because there was an impact on businesses (due to Covid-19), purchases got delayed. Going forward, a product push will help revive the segment, and that’s what Audi India’s strategy is for 2021.

I must add that 2020 festive season sales were good and the momentum has continued; at Audi India, we sold the maximum number of cars in December 2020 (in that year). This gives us confidence that the demand will continue this year as well (also because we are launching so many new cars this year). Even the workshop utilisation has now almost reached pre-pandemic levels.

How many sales come from non-urban areas?

The sales proportion is 50-50 for us (in metro cities and non-metro cities). We will now have a workshop-first approach and also focus on Audi Approved plus (pre-owned sales channel). At the same time, our focus on digital sales channel is paying off and right now 20% of our sales leads are coming from the digital channel. 

So the focus on digital is paying-off…

In fact, we were one of the first to have launched digital sales initiatives, including augmented reality. Today, customers can visit the official website and experience, let’s say, the new A4 in augmented reality. Using augmented reality and the 360-degree product visualiser, they can view the inside and outside of a car they wish to purchase and can even book it online from the comfort of their home, or can register their interest at the nearest Audi India dealership. Customers get access to features including augmented reality, placement of test drive requests, product brochures, and service cost calculators on the myAudi Connect app.

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