INTERVIEW: RAHIL ANSARI
A tête-à-tête with the head honcho of the four rings in India
CarIndia(CI): Welcome to India again. What are your top priorities currently? Rahil Ansari (RA): We want to create a sustainable growth in India. We are not happy being at number two. We want to be at the top; that is the target. But not to do it overnight but sustainably so. When we reach the top, we should stay there. We are looking at getting more customers to the brand and to grow them in the Audi family. Volume is a priority but we will not overdo it. CI: The scenario has changed considerably since your previous stint in India and there is much more uncertainty currently. What do you think are the key challenges and how are you bracing for them? RA: I have been speaking to dealers and customers. There are a few India-specific challenges. We wish we had time to prepare for events like diesel ban in the National Capital Region last year. The most important thing is to keep calm, consolidate and take steps. One thing is to have a strong product portfolio and go for sustainable growth along with dealer partners. In phases when the market is challenging, you need to be calm and that is the strength of Audi. CI: A slew of launches are happening in the luxury space offering customers a great choice. How do you build brand loyalty in this scenario? RA: Yes. People want novelties. That is the reason for us to look at bringing a large product portfolio. We will do around 10 launches this year. At the same time, we are not only looking at volumes but at fulfilling customers’ requirements and entering new segments to create trends. We will bring some models in segments where we have never been. CI: You have been in the country for a month now. What changes do you notice in the Indian market and what is your view on the growth prospects? RA: The luxury segment is small but the country is so full of resources. A substantial number of people can own an Audi. We expect the market to grow at a certain stage. No one knows when this time will come but it is sure that the segment will grow. India is a small but strategic market for Audi. CI: We hear a lot about electric vehicles (EV) and their future in India. What’s your take on this? RA: Despite EVs being on the radar of the government and OEMs the world over, the scenario of roads filled with electrically-operated cars still has some distance to go. However, there is a great opportunity for Audi in this segment and there is definitely a potential in India for e-mobility. We would welcome a long-term focus to see what could be done together with the industry and the government and how, realistically, a road-map could be
put in place to move to electrification. CI: Have you any policy/incentive suggestions for the government that will help leapfrog demand in the space? RA: A reduction in import duties will help the brands in offering the cars at an affordable price, thus helping in promoting clean and sustainable technologies. On the other hand, the government needs to get infrastructure in place for such vehicles in the Indian market. Electric mobility must be seen as a normal part of our everyday lives. Only then will it become firmly established in our society and ensure a sustainable approach. For us, it is now important to actively and vigorously push this transformation forward. CI: You have a strong understanding of the Indian market and regulatory scenario. Did this prompt Audi AG to send you back to India? RA: The company made it clear they needed someone of Indian origin and who’s been here, who knows the psyche of Indian buyers, and understands the culture. They also wanted someone young to reflect Audi, which is a young and dynamic brand.
‘Electric mobility must be seen as a normal part of our everyday lives. Only then will it become firmly established in our society’