MUMBAI – Luxury car makers will sell an estimated 26,000-plus units this year in India, 70.3% more than in 2010. And they are looking ahead to potential sales of 150,000 by 2020.
With the future looking so promising, almost all of the 19 such auto makers are fighting for a share of the market by offering more than 400 variants of 80 models.
Audi,and Mercedes-Benz sell a combined 32 high-end models, half of them assembled at Indian plants from complete-knocked-down kits. -owned Jaguar Land Rover sells seven such models; one is assembled in India and the rest are imported CKDs.
The other 41 models are imported fully assembled and subject to a 110% duty.
Prices range from Rs2.6 million ($53,000) for a smaller super-luxury car to an unofficial Rs 200 million ($4.08 million) for anOne-77, named for the number to be built by the U.K. auto maker. Those figures do not include local taxes and charges.
Top-shelf auto makers expect to open 50 new dealerships in India by the end of this year, raising the total to 175. Audi,and Mercedes-Benz plan to locate some of these dealerships in Tier II cities with populations ranging from 1 million to 4 million, and even Tier III cities of fewer than 1 million. There have been several big one-time sales. Last year in Tier II town of Aurangabad, 150 individuals each purchased a Mercedes for Rs650 million ($13.3 million) in a pooled single transaction. Another 101 buyers from the same town later ordered BMWs.
This year a tourist-car operator in Gurgaon bought 90 Mercedes models in a single deal, and rents the cars for Rs6,000-Rs150,000 ($120-$3,000) for 50 miles (80 km) of use over eight hours’ time.
BMW plans to begin importing its Mini Cooper next year, pricing it at about Rs2.5 million ($51,000). Local management will decide which Mini model to bring to India. Imports, says BMW India President Andreas Schaaf, “could even increase, depending on the model and the timing.”
Peter Honegg, Mercedes-Benz India CEO and managing director, says the auto maker is expanding its presence in the Indian market and hopes to sell at least 50 cars a year from dealerships in Tier II and Tier III cities. Mercedes also has set up a financing branch.
Audi is a latecomer but a fast mover. It can assemble CKD models at a Skoda plant in Aurangabad or at’s modern plant at Chakan. Its aim is to outsell BMW in India by 2015.
Sales of hatchbacks and sedans are sluggish, but sales of luxury models will continue to grow rapidly. A 2010 Merrill Lynch Asia/Pacific report says India has 153,000 “high-net-worth” individuals with combined assets totaling Rs28 trillion ($56 billion). Auto makers hope to tap into that market with products offering aspirational value.