Mumbai: In its most significant strategic move since China, Audi, the luxury car maker, whose sales performance for the first four months of this year was the best in its history, will begin its foray into India by setting up a dealer network.
Being in the right place at the right time is something that Audi has already managed to achieve in China. With the establishment of a dealer network in India, Audi is now betting on what it believes will be another key market of the future.
Following the conclusion of two dealership agreements at the key strategic locations of Delhi and Bombay, and one in Bangalore therafter, Audi will be represented in the market from July 2004. With this first step of setting up of the dealer network, Audi's sales target is to sell 1,000 vehicles in the next five years. In the short term, Audi aims for sales in the triple-digit range in the six months ending March 2005.
"We will take up a sporty position and watch carefully the way the market develops. There is still a lot more potential in this market, and we certainly intend to exploit it," says Joerg Hofmann, Managing Director, Asia Pacific Region, Audi AG.
With half a dozen luxury cars, some perhaps better known brands, due to make their entry into India, how does Audi plan to meet competition? "The luxury car market in India is still small, making up less than 1 per cent of the total market. That means the growth potential is definitely there for all players in the luxury car segment, " says Sunil Kaul, country manager, Audi Asia Pacific.
"The luxury car segment in India tripled in the last five years and is expected to grow by 25 per cent this year. With India being the fourth biggest market in Asia, we see it offering excellent opportunities for Audi. It is the right time for us to enter this promising market," says Kaul.
The network of dealers in the three carefully-identified markets will provide after-sales support to the company's range in India. "In the fourth quarter of 2004, we will launch four models in India through our dealers - the A8, A6, TT Coupe, and the all-road Quattro - appealing to different lifestyle needs," Kaul explains
Audi is banking its projected growth in India on a three-prong strategy that has worked for it in other parts of the Asia Pacific. First, it will build and spread awareness and brand image amongst its target audience among its target segment - the affluent buyer. Second, Audi aims to establish an efficient infrastructure with an experienced dealer network. Audi will implement its high standards of world class sales and after-sales service in its Indian operations. It will begin by appointing dealers offering the full range of sales, after-sales and spare parts services in Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore. Additional service centres to meet customer needs in other locations as the business develops will follow.
And, third, through an energetic product line, the first models to go on sale in the second half of this year will be the new Audi A6 3.0, the Audi TT Coupe 1.8T, as well as the Audi A8L 3.0 and the Audi all-road Quattro 2.5 TDI.
The newly-designed Audi A6 is one of its most important models, highlighting the design evolution for the Audi brand. This executive-class saloon, with its low-slung windows, coupé-like roofline, out-and-out drivability, high standards of luxurious comfort and exemplary interior equipment sets the standard in its segment. It will be available in India later this year with a 3-litre V6 engine with multitronic transmission.
The classic TT Coupe offers an unparalleled driving experience of performance and control. A visual treat that's a 100 per cent pure sports car, its precision-tuned suspension and strong frame deliver razor-sharp response to match one's desire for turbo-charged engine power.
With its introduction of its flagship A8, Audi added a new sporting dimension in the luxury segment. With its compelling handling, pioneering technology and exclusive design and equipment, this saloon redefines the notion of sports appeal in the luxury segment. The A8 embodies Audi's claim of "Vorsprung durch Technik": sporting character and clear design, innovative technology and superlative quality.
The all-road Quattro is a concept vehicle that combines the advantages of a luxury touring car with those of an off-roader. The adjustable air suspension with four ride heights, the high-performance Quattro driveline and tyre concept that's been tried and tested for off-road applications enable the car to be used on rough tracks and steep slopes.
For four years running, Audi has enjoyed double-digit growth in Asia Pacific. Audi Asia Pacific sales increased 51 per cent in 2003 to a total of over 85,000 units. Audi will continue to expand its product range in the region, with 10 new models planned for launch over the next five years.
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