It seems the fight between German auto majors for leadership position in the luxury car space in India is heating up, with Audi upping the ante in an attempt to unseat the top two firms, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, by 2015.
"Having recorded 95 per cent growth during the January-August period here, India is well ahead of other growth markets for us globally and we are confident that we are on track with our vision of being the No. 1 luxury car maker in India by 2015," Audi India Head Michael Perschke said.
In August, Audi reported a 100-plus per cent jump in sales to 510 units, as against 250 units in the month-ago period. During the January-August period, its sales jumped a full 95 per cent to 3,655 units from 1,876 units in the corresponding year-ago period.
On the back of these robust sales numbers, Audi, which is placed at No. 3 in the luxury car market in terms of sales numbers, has set a target for sales of 5,000 units this year.
To attain this coveted position, the Volkswagen Group company is ramping up its dealership network and hiring more personnel.
"We will be hiring at least 600 more people and raising our dealerships to 25 by the end of 2012. We will also enhance our portfolio with the launch of the Q3 (model) next year," Perschke said.
At present, BMW is the No. 1 luxury car-maker in the country, a position it snatched from Mercedes-Benz for the first time in 2009.
While Mercedes sold 4,890 units in January-August this fiscal, a growth of 40 per cent from 3,495 units in the year-ago period, BMW had sold 5,364 units till July.
Even as these foreign car-markers report high sales numbers, domestic auto majors have been witnessing a sharp decline in sales since last July, when overall sales slumped by 16.7 per cent year-on-year.
August was no better, with domestic auto-makers' sales falling by over 10 per cent. Recently, Mercedes-Benz had said it wanted to regain the leadership position in the Indian luxury car market by 2015.
"Our entire product portfolio, relevant to this market, will come here in the next three years (by 2015)...I think, we will have nine to 10 new brands by then," Mercedes-Benz India Sales & Marketing Director Debashis Mitra had said.
Some of these new products will also include its proposed small cars, Mitra had added. Merc India first lost its leadership position to BMW in 2009, when it could sell only 3,247 units, as against BMW's 3,619 units. In 2010, too, Merc sold 5,819 cars, compared to BMW's 6,246 units.
Meanwhile, BMW said it was confident of maintaining its market leadership position, which it has held on to for the last two years. "Our cars are positioned to attract all generations of people, who aspire to have a BMW. We have no problem in selling cars to uncles, fathers, mothers and pops. Maybe that is the reason for our success," BMW India President Andreas Schaaf had said.
While other players are currently revising their targets downward in light of the negative sales numbers beginning July, Audi is confident of exceeding its set target of 5,000 units this year. "We are confident that we will exceed our set target of 5,000 units this year," Perschke said.
Audi continues to be the market leader in the luxury SUV segment, with its Q5 and Q7, and in the super sports car segment with its R8, he said. Audi India sells various models, including the Audi A4, Audi A6, Audi A7 Sportback and Audi A8L.