Luxury car market is growing steadily in India - unruffled by the people's car boom. Connoisseurs can look forward to a delightful choice. Somma Banerjjee reports
The people's car market ushered in by the Tata Nano, has not obliterated the luxury car segment in India. Car lovers' passion for the finest dream machine on wheels knows no bounds just as the priciest liquors never cease to find their way to the cellars of the rich and famous.
Luxury carmakers are aware of the buyers' passions. So they are steadily going about their plans to manufacture and / or sell luxury cars for the Indian market, unruffled by the renewed zest for small cars after the debut of the Nano.
The current luxury car market in India is an estimated 4,500-5,000 units per annum and is expected to grow to 10,000 units by 2010.
No wonder what prompted ace car designer Dilip Chabria to showcase his super luxury concept car 'Ambierod', the most expensive designer car at the Ninth Auto Expo in New Delhi. This Amby costs a neat Rs4 crore ($1 million). Chabria said the Amberoid was an attempt to evolve the good old Amby to be a part of India's future.
Amby comes with a sleek instrument panel backed by a satellite navigation system, rear vision camera, three LCD televisions, Internet and videoconferencing-enabled flat bed and multi-coloured mood lighting.
The best of comfort, appearance and amenities besides an average selling price above $36,000 entitle a car to be classified as a luxury vehicle. However, that doesn't mean that all cars over $36,000 are always luxury cars. In Europe, the luxury car is often referred to as an "executive car". Companies such as Bentley, Rolls Royce, Maybach, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Audi, and Cadillac are commonly viewed as luxury car manufacturers.
Hyundai Motor India drives in more luxury cars into India
India's second-largest passenger car manufacturer, Hyundai Motor India, is considering bringing in more luxury cars in India, company president Ashok Jha said at the launch of the compact car, the i10, in November 2007.
According to Jha, some of the models manufactured by the Korean parent company might be relevant to India. The luxury cars would be brought to India as completely knocked down (CKD) kits and assembled at the Tamil Nadu plant. In India, the company sells the luxury car Sonata, a 2359cc luxury sedan ,which comes as a completely built unit (CBU) from Korea.
Super-luxury cars for India from the stable of Bentley
Bentley plans to introduce the Azure and the Continental GTC in India, which are manufactured at the UK and imported through the CBU (completely built unit) route at a price of Rs3.8 crore and Rs2.1 crore respectively (ex-showroom - Delhi). Bentley Motors' Indian partner, the Delhi-based Exclusive Motors Pvt Ltd, will sell the cars.
"We come to India not by chance but with a plan and it's the growing acceptance among discerning Indian connoisseurs for such high-priced, super-luxury vehicles that's making us more confident about the market's potential," Ian Hession, regional sales manager, Bentley Middle East Africa & India told the media. "The Azure and the Continental GTC are the most distinctive new Bentleys yet."
Satya Bagla, managing director, also told the media that the Azure offers the ultimate glamour, sophistication and accommodation for adults in supreme comfort. Bagla also said that the Continental GTC was designed for customers looking to enjoy the phenomenal performance, style and excitement of the Continental GT with the additional benefits of classic open-top Bentley motoring.
Hession also said that the two models were very elegant and at the same time would appeal to different customers - people who are tired of driving sports cars that require too much effort; people who want to move up from more standard convertibles; and people who want to make a statement about what they drive, yet still own a car that they can use every day of the year, he specified.
The other line-ups of luxury cars in India
Encouraged by the surging demand for luxury cars in India, German luxury carmaker BMW is expanding its production to 3000 at an investment of Rs3 crore at Chennai, as it expects sales in the current calendar year to reach 2,000 units.
"We have beaten our target of selling 1,000 units in 2007 by successfully delivering 1,387 vehicles and this has also led to increase in our capacity to 3,000 units per annum from 1700 units on a single shift basis," BMW India President Peter Kronschnabl said, while speaking at the launch of BMW M cars and BMW Individuals at the 9th Auto Expo.
The company is also working on increasing its dealership network to Cochin, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.
Among other luxury carmakers, Daimler Chrysler entered the Indian market and set up Mercedes Benz India Ltd in the year 1994. DCIL manufactures S-series 320 L, E-series E200, E230 and E250 and C-series cars. Mercedes Benz recently launched Mercedes Benz CL and S Class (S 320CDI L) vehicles. The auto giant expects to sell around 3,000 vehicles by 2008. To follow the bandwagon was Audi; it launched its first car in India in the year 2004. It sells the A4, A6, A8, RS4 and Q7 models in India. Though Audi AG sold just 350 cars in India in 2007, the company considers India as the third most important market for its products. Audi's latest launch has been its sports coupe Audi TT. Audi is targeting a sales figure of 550-650 units for 2007-08 in comparison to a total sales figure of 450 in 2006.
2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Coupe, 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera , 2008 Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 - the models priced between 2, 00,00,000 to 3,00,00,000 are the offerings from the company for the luxury car category in India.
With all these the luxury car buyers now have the luxury to choose from an exciting list of luxury cars in India… but, of course, they won't come at an :"affordable" price tag!
View: Auto videos | Auto picture galleries