Plans exclusive dealerships to sell ‘Mini’

German automaker BMW will launch more cars in India as well as begin indigenisation once its starts selling at least 30,000 units per year. The car maker has also decided it will have separate dealerships for its iconic Mini cars in the country.

“You won’t see a Mini in our regular dealerships. Mini customers are different. Therefore, we need a different way of selling cars,” Philipp von Sahr, President, BMW Group India, told Business Line.

Dealerships for Mini

He said customers of the Mini are not interested in referring to car magazines to buy the product or how much horse power the engine has; they are interested in the car’s colour, equipment, etc.

He said BMW has so far invested about Rs 180 crore in the Indian market with a CKD unit in Chennai. With regard to production of cars in India, he said the car maker has a very clear policy on manufacturing in other countries. “If the market demands it, we will do it,” the 54-year old von Sahr said. He said by the end of next year, BMW will introduce the 7 as well as the 1 series in India.

He also clarified that there have been no statements from the car maker regarding plans to sell engines for TVS motorcycles. As motorcycles in India have smaller engines, BMW, which has bikes of over 500 cc capacity, will watch the market before introducing more of its motorcycle brands in the country.

No discounts

von Sahr, previously the president of BMW Belgium-Luxembourg, said the car maker would never enter the discount war to sell products in India. “We don’t want to be winning the race of discounts. If you give discounts for luxury cars, you are damaging the brand,” he said. BMW leads the luxury car market in India.

He said it is important for BMW to be a profitable company here as well as for its dealers to be profitable.

The head of BMW’s Indian operations said some of the manufacturers are competing as if they are in the volumes game. But premium car makers should differentiate their brands by premium pricing and premium dealerships.

“It is important for the customers to feel good when they pay a premium price for premium products,” he said.

BMW sold about 4,500 cars in the first six months of this calendar year.

(This article was published on December 17, 2012)
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