Volkswagen Passenger Cars India, which had exited the mid-size sedan segment earlier this year by discontinuing the production of Vento, on Thursday re-entered it with the launch of the new Virtus. The company is hopeful of gaining a 20% market share in the segment by the end of the current fiscal, Ashish Gupta, the brand director said. Earlier, when the company was present in the segment with Vento, it had a market share of around 5%.
Volkswagen Virtus, which made its world premiere earlier this year in March, comes in the price range of `11.22 lakh to `17.92 lakh (ex-showroom) in the domestic market. It will rival the likes of Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, and Skoda Slavia.
Gupta said that Virtus has received an overwhelming response. “We have been showcasing the car at our 152 touchpoints across the country for the last two to three weeks. Over 10,000 customers have visited our showrooms and we already have close to 4,000 pre-bookings,” he added.
Volkswagen Virtus comes with a couple of turbocharged petrol engine options — 1.5-litre TSI EVO and 1.0-litre TSI. It gets transmission options like 6-speed manual, 6-speed torque converter automatic and 7-speed DSG automatic.
Gupta said that for premium and aspirational brands, the demand for the higher variants is always more. “Almost 40% of the bookings are for the 1.5-litre engine and 60% for the 1.0-litre engine,” he noted.
Virtus is Volkswagen’s second model to be introduced under Volkswagen Group’s India 2.0 project, after the Taigun mid-size SUV. Skoda Auto, which is also a part of Volkswagen Group, has already launched the Kushaq mid-size SUV and Slavia mid-size sedan under the project. Volkswagen Group has invested 1 billion euros in the implementation of the project.
“If you look at the mid-size sedan segment, it was around 90,000-95,000 units last year (CY21). This year (CY22) with the introduction of Virtus and a similar car (Slavia) from our sister brand (Skoda), our belief is that this segment will grow to around 140,000-150,000 units. And Volkswagen is looking at 15-20% share that translates to roughly 2,500 cars a month,” Gupta said.
While the company is already exporting Taigun to almost 30 countries from India, the exports of Virtus will be starting from the month of August. The mid-size sedan will also be shipped to around 30 countries. Mexico and South Africa are among the biggest export markets for the company.
With models like Virtus, Taigun, and the flagship Tiguan SUV in its portfolio, Volkswagen is aiming to more than double its domestic wholesale volumes to nearly 60,000 units in CY22. The company had sold around 26,000 units in CY21.