Porsche looking to expand in India; to launch luxury sedan Panamera by late 2009

Even though luxury car manufacturers like Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ferrari are bearish about the American and other developed markets, their sentiments are understood to be quite bullish towards emerging markets like India.

Despite a lower 7 per cent growth forecast for the Indian auto industry in the current fiscal year, sales of luxury cars continues to grow unhampered.

It is widely believed that the rising aspirations of the noveau rich have been the main factors responsible for brisk sales of such models. Moreover, banks and financial institutions are also laying red carpet for such buyers and are dishing out huge sums of money as loans. This has led to the best annual performance by Mercedes-Benz in its 11 years of existence in India.  Now, even as carmakers slow down production worldwide, they are in a rush to introduce newer models in India. (See: Mercedes-Benz on a roll in India: registers 47 per cent growth in its best year yet)

For Porsche, the next major sales leap would be with the launch of the coupe 'Panamera' in late 2009, which will match the taste of exclusive Indian customers. At present, the Porsche Cayenne model range is the Porsche's best selling model in India and has a major share in the overall Luxury SUV market. Porsche also expects to maintain the lead role in the sports car segment, which it already dominates with the Boxster, the Cayman and the 911 range.

"While 2010 will be the year of the Panamera, we have high hopes for the Panamera in the country and are very excited about it," said Porsche India managing director Rod Wallace. The strategy now is to create brand awareness and establish a dealership base, he said.

The company is hoping to bring the luxury sedan Panamera to India simultaneously with its global launch scheduled for late-2009. Although the pricing is undecided, it is expected to mirror that of the 911.

Porsche SE will also be launching structured finance options for its marquee models in India, with two leading Indian financial institutions, in order to notch up record volumes in the domestic market. The company, which currently has two dealers in Mumbai and Delhi, will open one more in Ludhiana in the next two weeks, followed by a dealership each in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai in the next four-five months, and will eventually scale it up to 10-11 cities by 2010.

The company will roll out a pre-owned car programme in 2009, for which cars will be sourced from within India, Wallace said. There are around 650 Porsches on Indian roads that are about 2-3 years old, Wallace said adding individuals generally look for a car change in about three years. This programme would involve buying back the car and its refurbishment by the dealer along with a company warranty.