From the peak of over 40,000 units per year in 2014-15, sales of luxury cars in India dropped to about 21,000 units in CY2020. In the pandemic year, the market was led by Mercedes-Benz (7,893 units, down 43% year-on-year) and BMW (6,604 units, down 31%), while Audi — once the biggest luxury car player in India — trailed at just 1,639 units (down 63%). Other carmakers in this segment are Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo and Lexus. However, Balbir Singh Dhillon, head, Audi India, is hopeful that with a product offensive strategy in place for CY2021, the company will see double-digit growth. “We launched the new made-in-India A4 sedan in January, and this year will see a host of new car launches; with a well-established petrol strategy in place, we are also geared up to kick off our electrification strategy in India,” he said.
Audi India currently manufactures only two models, the A4 and the A6. According to its website, the A3, the Q3 and the Q5 — the so-called ‘volume’ cars — are not even on sale. “Preparations are on for local assembly,” Dhillon said, without specifying any models. Last year, the company moved its strategy from petrol-plus-diesel to petrol-and-electrified cars. This year, in addition to petrol cars, Audi will also launch two pure electric cars. “We will launch the e-tron and the e-tron Sportback within two-three months,” Dhillon said. “This year will see 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.”
On electric cars, he said the success depends on the infrastructure — it should not happen that a customer buys these cars and faces charging-related issues. “We are trying to find out what potential issues a customer may face once he or she buys an electric car, and that’s why the launch is taking some time.”
While the sales split for Audi India (metro cities vis-à-vis non-metro) is 50:50, Dhillon said sales in tier-2 and tier-3 cities have been growing of late. “We will now have a workshop-first approach and focus on Audi Approved plus (pre-owned sales channel). At the same time, our focus on digital sales channel is paying off and about 20% of our sales leads are coming from the digital channel,” he said.
Last year, during the lockdown, Audi was one of the first carmakers in India to have launched digital sales initiatives, including 360-degree product visualiser in augmented reality and fully online car sales. On Monday, the company launched the S5 Sportback, a supercar priced Rs 79.06 lakh.
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