Thursday, April 24, 2008

Burgeoning middle class in India

India's luxury car market, till recently was dominated by just one player, Mercedes Benz and a few individual imports, registered a 50% growth last year, with the sale of 4,500 cars. That was the first effect of the entry of more players.

This year, they expect to sell between 6,000-7,000, with more players and more models. Of this number, the oldest player in the segment, Mercedes Benz, has revised its sales target for 08 to 3,000 cars. BMW's target is 2,000 cars, leaving the balance for the others.

One reason for the higher sales is the aggressive dealer network that the car makers are rolling out. In Pune, for instance, from a situation a few months ago of just Mercedes Benz having a showroom, BMW and Audi have set up dealerships. And Volvo Cars, part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group (PAG) has declared its intention of setting up dealerships in the country's top 10 cities, including Pune.

Auto industry analysts claim Pune had a population of about 50 Audis, prior to the opening of the showroom, imported by individuals. Now that there is a dealer in the city, this number has risen dramatically, with at least another 25-30 cars with the four inter-linked circles to be seen on city roads.

Ditto for BMW, which opened a showroom in the city in December 07. While a BMW spokesperson said they do not give city-specific details, the visible effect is everywhere: open a dealership and see sales grow dramatically.

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