When we bring the hatch, we will lead there as well: Joe King

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Published: May 28, 2015 12:56:23 AM

German luxury carmaker Audi has outperformed its competitors in India in the past couple of years and even entered the Northeast.

German luxury carmaker Audi has outperformed its competitors in India in the past couple of years and even entered the Northeast. Joe king, head, Audi India, in an interview to Malyaban Ghosh, said the company will launch 10 products in India this year and may also consider launching a hatchback when convinced that the market is ready for it. Excerpts:

Mercedes-Benz managed to sell 79 more vehicles than you in the January-March quarter. How is Audi planning to regain the pole position?

Audi India is the first luxury car manufacturer to achieve the double feat of sales leadership in consecutive calendar years and financial years. This is a great achievement for a brand that was the last to enter the market. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. Leadership is not just sales volumes, it is about having good quality service, customer interaction and a strong brand pull. For the Indian market, the strategy has to be right and ours has been on track. We will continue to follow this strategy.

How does the hatch fit into your India scheme?

We bring in cars that make sense from both the business point of view and customer point of view. That’s why we went through the process of bringing in the Audi A3 sedan rather than the Audi A3 hatch. We are not ruling out the hatch completely, but when we do bring it, we will be 100% sure that India is ready for this segment. We will be the leaders there as well.

As a result of good response for the A3 sedan, will you emphasise more on entry segment cars for volumes?

I think the fact that it won 14 awards in 2014 shows we were absolutely right with the strategy of bringing in the sedan rather than a hatch. We’re creating new offerings which we believe have a lot of long-term potential. Maybe not a game-changer in the very short-term from the volume point of view but then again we are not here just to try and sell more cars. We have already launched the limited edition Audi R8 LMX, the new Audi TT Coupe and the new Audi RS 7 Sportback. We intend to launch 10 products in total in India this year.

How do you plan to increase market share from 34%?

If all goes well — such as release of pent-up demand, some reduction in interest rates — I think we could be in for an even better year. Obviously, the key for us is to make sure we have our capacity right within the factories. Going ahead, our strategy will continue to maintain our market share and grow by bringing the right products to the market.

What are the localisation levels of Audi’s existing products? What is the capacity ultilisation at Aurangabad?

We currently produce the Audi A4, Audi Q5, Audi A6, Audi Q7, Audi Q3 and Audi A3 sedan locally. More than 95% of our sales volumes are built locally. We have significant capacity currently, with 14,000 units per annum on a single shift. We are in discussions for the next stage of localisation.

What is your take on the proposed GST, which is expected to be implemented by 2016?

I think simplification of the tax structure will be a big step forward. Currently, differential pricing and taxes across states make it very complicated.

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