A tête-à-tête with the head hon­cho of the four rings in In­dia

Car India - - CONTENTS - In­ter­viewed by: Aspi Bhathena

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’

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