On Friday, Porsche India extended its Cayenne SUV range with the addition of the Cayenne Coupé, featuring an all-new body shape, two different roof concepts, and a sports-car-like driving performance. While the model shares the same technical attributes as the third-generation Cayenne, its sloping roofline gives it a more athletic appearance. The two derivatives available are the Cayenne Coupé (Rs 1.31 crore) and the Cayenne Turbo Coupé (Rs 1.97 crore). “The Cayenne Coupé reinforces the evolutionary approach Porsche takes to developing its sports cars for the new era,” says Pavan Shetty, director, Porsche India. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that, with the Macan, launched earlier this year, Porsche is attracting an altogether new set of customers. Excerpts:
While there is a slowdown in the Indian auto industry (mass market), is the super-premium segment unaffected?
Lamborghini, for example, has been selling one Rs 3 crore SUV every week in India… We don’t sell instruments of commute, but help in the realisation of dreams. A car, like a Porsche is something people have been wanting since childhood. Our buying cycles are pretty long; buying a Porsche is usually a well-thought, well-charted decision. At the same time, even if you look at the mass market, all players aren’t doing badly; those that launched new products have seen increasing demand. This is true for super-premium segment as well. We launched the Macan a few months ago and the market has been quite receptive. The more expensive Cayenne sells every two days. The super-premium segment is more or less stable; at Porsche, we expect to sell the same number of cars this year as we did in the last.
What is your car parc in India?
We should have close to 4,000 cars in India, which, we believe, is a decent size for such a market. We have been selling about 450 cars every year over the last 4-5 years.
How will you describe a Porsche car?
We call our cars ‘sports luxury’. These are good for everyday usage, and for racing on a track. We are big on exclusivity and personalisation, because if you’ve dreamt of a Porsche since childhood, you’ve also likely dreamt how it should look like.
The Macan is the most ‘affordable’ Porsche, and yet it comes across as more expensive than similar luxury-level vehicles. Why?
In India, the Macan starts at about Rs 70 lakh. We have never been in that segment before, and this is attracting a completely different set of customers. Yes, we charge a premium over some of the other brands in that segment, but then we are a premium car within the super-premium segment.
What is the contribution of companies such as Porsche (which primarily import cars) to the Indian economy?
The contribution is in terms of employment. The team in India, the technicians, dealer colleagues are all Indians. Then we have a parts warehouse in India, and people working there are all Indians. Also, we work towards their skill development, their training that is of the global standard, and that is also a major contribution. Lastly, there are high taxes, customs duty, and registration and insurance charges on our cars, which get used for public development.
Globally, Porsche is taking steps towards electrification, and has developed the Taycan…
We will launch the Taycan in India by the middle of next year. It’s a four-seater electric sports car, and whoever has seen it or driven it has been blown away by its performance, its shape, its driving dynamics.
Also, in India, super-premium car buyers are far more open to change then mass market car buyers, because of the consumption pattern; we already have some willing enthusiasts in India who want to purchase the Taycan.
What about the charging infrastructure?
By the time we bring the Taycan to India we expect there would be charging points at the required locations, like between two major cities. Moreover, we will give two charging units to customers: one could be in office and another at home. We have also tied-up with some top hotels in many cities where there would be a charging point for Taycan customers, as well as at our dealerships.
A good thing is the government believes that electric is the future, and there will be a stronger push to develop electric infrastructure in the country.
Who is the ideal Porsche customer?
The average age of Porsche customers in India is about 45 years, a big chunk of who are businessmen. However, with the Macan, we have seen a different customer base; for example, the CXOs, and then women buyers, too.
How does a company like Porsche approach prospective customers?
Our biggest source is positive word-of-mouth and referrals. We have very high customer satisfaction and customer retention. We don’t merely sell a car, we offer you lifestyle. I must add that when you have a Porsche parked in your garage, your status is automatically lifted in the society. What does owning a Porsche say about you? It says you are down to earth, you are successful, you are intelligent, and you are a subject matter expert.