Interview: Ashish Gupta, Brand Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India

Our initial plan is to sell 5,000-6,000 units of the Taigun in India every month.

By:August 9, 2021 8:50 AM
Interview with Ashish Gupta

Volkswagen India will soon launch the Taigun midsize SUV in India, the space currently dominated by Hyundai and Kia. However, Ashish Gupta, brand director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India, doesn’t term the Koreans as competitors, but as compatriots. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that there is enough room for one more player in this space. Excerpts:

With the Taigun midsize SUV, do you plan to challenge the Korean brands head-on (Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos)?

I don’t see it as a challenge; each of us has enough space in the midsize SUV sub-segment, which is one of the largest and the fastest growing sub-segments in the Indian passenger vehicle space. With the entry of Volkswagen, I am sure the segment will grow further. Indian customers have their own preferences and their choice, and we are giving them an option. I won’t term the Koreans as competitors, but they are compatriots.

Skoda is launching a new midsize sedan later this year in India. Will there be a version of that sedan from Volkswagen as well? Also, is there enough life left in the midsize sedan segment?

The sedan segment is not dead, but right now I think it lacks viable options. At Volkswagen, we have a diverse set of customers; while SUVs are the flavour of the season, I believe there are enough customers who would rather choose a sedan body shape, because it may suit their lifestyle.

The midsize sedan that you talked about is a global product developed on our platform. While Skoda will launch this sedan first in India, at Volkswagen we are targeting start of production at the end of March 2022 and market introduction towards the end of April 2022.

Is the sub-4 metre segment, from where Volkswagen has exited by discontinuing the Ameo, a target area in the near-term?

Not in the near-term, but we are looking at all sub-segments, especially the sub-4 metre SUV space that will be of our interest, going forward.

Globally, there is a lot of focus by Volkswagen on electrification. Will that focus shift to India as well?

We are currently studying the Indian battery-electric vehicle four-wheeler segment. While it’s less than 0.5% of sales, we expect this segment to almost double every year, and by 2025 our internal studies show that battery-electric vehicles could be about 5% of the Indian market. That will be a good starting point for us and we can look at bringing our global portfolio to India; that also gives us sufficient time to customise our global battery-electric cars for the Indian market.

Some carmakers are refocusing on hybrid-electric vehicles…

We also have all the technologies available globally, but in the long-term our go-to-market strategy would be battery-electric vehicles.

What kind of sales units per month are you targeting with the Taigun?

Our initial plan is to sell 5,000-6,000 units of the Taigun in India every month, and then take it from there, depending on how the car is accepted in the market.

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