Volkswagen Group-owned, Ingolstadt based “Audi” has overtaken its rival “BMW” as the number one player in the Indian luxury car space for the first time in the first quarter of 2013. And that’s not all the bad news for BMW:
ET learns that “Mercedes Benz” has regained its number two position, relegating Munich-based BMW to third place.
According people familiar with the sales data, BMW India sold 1465 units in the January to March of 2013 of which 1410 units were BMW-branded vehicles and 55 were Mini-branded cars, a year-on-year decline of 40%.
Audi in the same period sold 2,616 units posting a growth of 15% and Mercedes Benz India sold 2009 units growing by over 5%. Rushlane, an autoblog was the first to highlight the change in the pecking order.
When contacted, BMW India said that the company is not in a month on month race in individual markets. “The BMW Group is a very successful global company and continues to strive for a worldwide balance in sales. We will continue to our success story in India in 2013 due to the availability of new models such as the BMW 1 Series in the third quarter and a full year availability of the BMW 3 Series this year,” the BMW spokesperson added.
Michael Perschke, Head, Audi India told ET, if the numbers are true, then Audi is not only number one in the first quarter of 2013, but for the whole of FY-13. “I think 2013 will be a very competitive year. It will be like an F1 competition, neck-and-neck racing and not like football league in Germany. At least we would end 2013 as a strong number two or we would be defending our number 1 position if things fall in place, as we have planned,” he added.
Perschke however says, whichever position the year 2013 ends, Audi will be number one in 2014 with more product offerings from the company and expansion of network.
Having sold 9,375 units in 2012, BMW India posted a flat growth last year, as its Ingolstadt based German rival Audi sped to a strong 63% growth with the sales of little over 9,000 units, sniffing at the number one position held by BMW.
Just a few days back, Philip Von Sahr, president, BMW Group India told ET that for him the number one position does not matter. “The lead of one month here or there does not matter. What is important for us is to grow sustainably with profits, and our endeavour will be to build a strong brand and rank number one in sales and customer satisfaction,” he added.
BMW overtook Mercedes Benz as the number one player in the luxury car space in 2009, and as Audi gained, Mercedes fell to the No 3 position in the first half of 2012. In 2012, BMW did not see growth, selling 9,375 units, while Audi grew at 63% to sell just over 9,000 units.
JLR and Volvo also posted growth of 32% and 150% respectively albeit on a low base. The overall luxury car market in 2012 grew by over 15%-17% to around 28,500 units to 29,000 units.
But even with double-digit growth, the fight for market share was intense, with discounts in 2012 reaching 10% to 25% in some cases.
Experts say the Indian luxury car market is still at a nascent stage and the real battle for the number one position will begin once the entire range of products, from entry level cars like Mercedes’ A Class or BMW’s 1 series right up to super sports cars are available in India.
“The real battle lines will be drawn in 2015-16, when the portfolio for all these companies will be complete,” said Deepesh Rathore, MD India, IHS Automotive.
By that the market would have doubled. I think in the coming decade Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi would have traded the number one position to each other several times. The Indian market will move from exclusivity, to who has better market penetration, product portfolio and whose range is the freshest, ” Rathore added.