BMW aims to be No 1 in luxury segment for third time in India

"BMW is committed to India. The group sees huge potential in the market. We will continue to focus on maintaining the leadership in the Indian luxury car market by ensuring quality to our customers," BMW India President Andreas Schaaf said.

The company hopes to achieve the aim through aggressive product offerings and rapid market expansion by enhancing dealership network among others. BMW India plans to expand its product range to cover all the opportunities in the luxury car segment by launching the 6-series (convertible) and a new X3 SUV during the year.

Schaaf said though the 6-series (convertible) might not contribute volume-wise, it would help the company to further strengthen its brand. "The new X3 series is another great product to be launched by the middle of the year in India. I see a huge success of the X3 series in India," he added.

BMW India plans to double its dealership network to 40 by the end of next year. The expanded network would be rolled out in new cities where the company sees potential of selling at least 50 vehicles in a year such as Aurangabad and Kolhapur.

Anticipating higher sales, BMW India has already hiked its production capacity at Chennai assembly plant to 10,000 units from 8,000 vehicles (single-shift) earlier. It has also acquired some 20 acres of additional land adjoining to its Chennai plant. Though Schaaf did not divulge any timeline for the work on the expansion to start, saying that would all depend upon the sales.

Hinting that the company might even set up a full-fledged production plant in India, he said completely-knocked down (CKD) cars is just a temporary model, which helps a company to enter into a market and develop it.

"We will look at the development of the market and then we will consider setting up a manufacturing plant. However, I don't know the threshold level," he added. Indian consumers had bought around 16,000 luxury cars made mainly by BMW, Audi and Mercedes last year. The demand is likely to go up by up to 40 per cent this year, Schaaf said. Mercedes-Benz India and Audi India had sold 5,819 cars and 3,003 cars in 2010 registering 80 and 81 per cent growth respectively over 2009.

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