labels: volkswagen, marketing - general, automotive
Volkswagen drives the Passat into India news
05 September 2007

Mumbai: At a glittering media event at the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, Volkswagen unveiled its first VW car to be assembled in India, the Passat.

Over the next one and a half hours, amidst a specially designed cultural programme showcasing the fusion of Indian and German cultures, the Passat was officially launched.

Kevin Rose, executive director, international sales, Volkswagen passenger cars described the Passat in India as a car that combines elegance, comfort, and driving pleasure in a value for money package. The Passat has sales of around half a million cars a year, and has won more awards in Europe than any other car in its category.

The launch event itself saw a band of musicians, both Indian as well as foreign, come together with a ballerina and an Indian classical dancer to give form to VW''s tagline of "Indian spirit meets German excellence".

Rose said that the brand has a 70-year history, dating back to the Beetle, which had a shape as recognisable as the coke bottle, across the world. He further elaborated that the Volkswagen brand was recognised by 43 per cent of Indians, despite this being its first, official entry into the country.

Declining to comment on the projected sales for the Passat in India, Rose said that almost as policy, the company does not like to state numbers, anecdotally adding that if he were to state any, they''d most probably be wrong. Citing the example of China, where hatchbacks were somewhat looked down upon just two years ago, they are now perceived as ''hip''.

Making a similar observation about the Russian car market, he said that a year ago small SUV''s were nowhere on the popularity charts, as against this year. According to him, with the markets seeing this kind of an unprecedented pace of change, any numbers that he would quote were bound to be off the mark.

Instead, he said that Volkswagen had entered India driving in the Passat, and would now focus on "doing it the right way, one step at a time," taking the time to learn the nuances of the Indian market, as opposed to basing its future course of action on statistics.

Commenting on brand Volkswagen, Rose said that VW has always been a brand of people, and is conscious of being a good citizen. VW is here to create partnerships and employment, as much as it is here to deliver quality, reliability, service and after sales service, and is here to establish itself as "a brand that you can trust".

According to Rose, Volkswagen sees the bulk of its future growth coming from outside of Europe, with India playing a key role in that growth. Presently, the company sees 56 per cent of its business from outside Europe, and is looking to expand this to over 70 per cent over the coming decade.

The Passat was driven out on the ramp by Jorg Mueller, president Volkswagen India, and Anderas Prinz managing director, Volkswagen passenger cars, India. When asked by hostess Kamal Sidhu on how he felt about the first drive of the Passat, he quipped, that it was nice, but rather short, referring to the 10-odd meters that the car had covered on stage.

Prinz added that he too preferred to drive rather than occupy the passenger seat, as he had during the launch, going further to explain at length the features, interior and exterior trims and finish of the car to the media. This was followed by an extended photo opportunity for the media.

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Volkswagen drives the Passat into India