“Have we given up on diesel? The an­swer is no”

Audi In­dia head Bal­bir Singh Dhillon talks about no diesels in 2020, the lux­ury car busi­ness in In­dia and more

Evo India - - IIGNITION -

We have a lot in store for 2020

“We are launch­ing the Q8 on Jan­uary 15th, fol­lowed by the launch of the new A8 in Fe­bru­ary and there's a lot to come af­ter. [E-Tron] is also on the cards. Which month, we will let you know.”

In­dia is a diesel mar­ket

“There was a time when we were sell­ing al­most 97 per cent diesel, but now we sell al­most 30-35 per cent petrol. There def­i­nitely will be some cus­tomers who still want a diesel and they won't have that for some time. That said, have we given up diesel? The an­swer is no. We are still eval­u­at­ing. It is part of our port­fo­lio which is on the ta­ble, but we are hold­ing on to it.”

We have around 75,000+ cars across the coun­try

“In the dig­i­tal world, that is the wealth that we own. We have been de­vel­op­ing strat­egy 2025 for the last cou­ple of months. Key for us is also to not just look at be­ing a car com­pany but a ser­vice provider.”

Is [EV] go­ing to hap­pen overnight? The an­swer is no

“In­fra­struc­ture is one of the key things that needs to be avail­able. I want to be very, very care­ful when we launch these cars. We don't want to bring in cars and af­ter some­time we are think­ing whether we made the right de­ci­sion or not. We are def­i­nitely go­ing to get these cars, but for ex­am­ple, if the car has a range of 350km, will it be good enough or not good enough, we don't know yet.”

We need to fo­cus on sus­tain­abil­ity “Prof­itabil­ity for the [dealer] part­ners is very im­por­tant. Dis­count­ing is some­thing we need to relook at be­cause even­tu­ally it im­pacts the re­sale value of the car. So what­ever prof­itabil­ity that we draw by sell­ing cars, we also rein­vest into the cus­tomers. One of the key chal­lenges I have is how to change the per­cep­tion. What we will do is, of­fer a lot of value to the cus­tomer be­cause you need a cus­tomer who should feel trou­ble free for five, seven, ten years be­fore he sells the car and then for the next per­son who buys the car. We are also fo­cus­ing a lot on pre­owned car pro­grams. That is al­ready my tar­get and I will be even more pushy with it.”

[Lux­ury hatch­backs] have not yet worked for In­dia

“It has been tried al­ready and if we do this we will not be the first one. If you want cheap pric­ing, it's a big com­pro­mise. You know we have the Q2 which falls into a sim­i­lar cat­e­gory but

It’s not been easy for the last cou­ple of years

“The lux­ury seg­ment has re­mained 30-40,000 in the last six years. All of us imag­ined this would have grown to 100,000 cars but it has not hap­pened. What has hap­pened is that all of us are in the same seg­ment try­ing to eat the mar­ket share from each other. I per­son­ally be­lieve that we are on the cusp of mul­ti­ply­ing this at some point in time. Within one, two or three years, this in­dus­try will dou­ble at least. Tax­a­tion is also a very im­por­tant fac­tor in this. In the lux­ury seg­ment you have 22 per cent cess, put for five years to com­pen­sate the state gov­ern­ment for the loss of GST. I'm sure af­ter five years this 22 per cent will go and I hope it goes. That also has a rip­ple ef­fect on the reg­is­tra­tion cost, so if you are able to bring down the cost by, say, 10-15 per cent, you can stretch the vol­ume by dou­ble the per­cent­age. A 10 per cent de­crease in price gives you a 20 per cent in­crease in vol­ume and that's all how it goes.”

As told to SIRISH CHANDRAN

at the same time get­ting that car into In­dia at a price which the cus­tomer ex­pects is not that easy. To keep things sim­ple, you have a Q3; you have three vari­ants and then you try to catch the seg­ment that you oth­er­wise want to catch with Q2.”

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