BMW Group India will launch 25 new cars in 2021, in a bid to meet the rising demand for personal mobility post-lockdown. Of these, eight will be all-new cars, nine facelift versions of current cars, and eight new variants. In CY2020, the German carmaker saw 31.5% drop in sales (at 6,604 units, down from 9,641 units in CY2019), and was the second-largest luxury car player in India after Mercedes-Benz (7,893 sales in 2020).
This year it expects to grow in double digits. “We expect the full 12 months to be operational in 2021, as compared to around eight months in 2019,” said Vikram Pawah, president, BMW Group India.
From the upcoming Union Budget he expects a stimulus for the auto industry, as also indirect benefits that will support its growth. “The auto industry is a driver of the economy and India needs to come back to the 3-3.5 million car sales level,” he said. On the luxury car sub-sector in particular, he added that these carmakers are being penalised for bringing in the latest technologies to India, in the form of very high taxes. “There is tax in-equalisation between luxury and mass-market cars; if you correct that, you would enhance the value of the entire auto industry, and that would mean more tax collection. We need to see the bigger picture. Yes, everywhere there is a price difference between luxury and mass-market cars, but it is not as large as it is in India; it kind of distorts the market.”
He added that interest rate reduction, cost of ownership reduction, import duty reduction and fuel cost reduction will fuel demand for cars, as also better roads and better overall infrastructure.
While competitors are launching electric cars in India—Mercedes-Benz launched the EQC last year, and Audi will launch the e-tron and JLR the I-Pace this year — Pawah said that the company has plans and is watching the policy framework and the infrastructure. The company currently manufactures 12 models at its plant in Chennai, including the new 3 Series Gran Limousine launched on Thursday, priced Rs 51.5 lakh onwards (ex-showroom).
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