We will drive into hinterlands with mobile terminal, says Audi India head

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018


German luxury car maker keen on network expansion, ‘workshop first’ solution

German luxury car maker Audi has completed a decade this year in India and has sold more than 60,000 luxury cars so far. For few years it has held number one position with its successful models like the A4 and A6 in the sedan segment and Q3 and Q7 in the SUV segment, 95 per cent of the total volume is from those models which are locally produced. But, for the last wo years, its leading position has been taken over by another German luxury brand Mercedes-Benz. Not to let go, Audi is fighting to regain its position. In February this year, Audi appointed Rahil Ansari as the Head of Audi India, the youngest (38 years) to head any country at Audi globally. Born and brought up in Germany, the Indian origin Ansari has many tasks ahead — launches in all new segments, models like Q2, the smallest SUV from the Audi stable. In an interview with BusinessLine atthe sidelines of the new A3 launch (price starting at ₹30.50 lakh) he shares more on the company’s plans ahead. Excerpts:

What are your priorities?

My first priority is to make 2017 as a year of ‘Audi Reloaded’ for us. What is really important to us is that now we look forward and want to get into top where we belonged in a sustainable manner. We want to be unique for the customers in all areas -- from the network experience to sales and after-sales experience. We have a lot of priorities including internal aspect of it and then external aspects of the job.

What are the engagements for the customers this year?

What we have recently launched in Gurugram is the ‘24X7 workshop’, which means the customer can drop his car in the evening for the service and next morning pick up the car on his way to office. This is the kind of convenience we want to provide to our customers and looking at expanding it to Mumbai and to many more cities. This kind of programme is unique and we also have the Audi mobile terminal, which covers 40 cities, including hinterlands. We have covered not only tier-I cities, but also tier-II and a few tier-III cities. We have also realised that there is a demand in the smaller cities and with the mobile terminal we will go there so that customers can experience Audi cars.

Are you opening dealers network in those areas?

Yes and that is part of our network expansion. But, it also has to be viable business for us as well as for the dealer partners. We will definitely expand the network, but we will also come up with ‘workshop first’ solution, where you have decent car park. We will see the viabilities first by opening the workshops first. We are already looking at some small cities/towns for the showrooms and announce when the time comes.

How many showrooms do you plan this year?

We have 94 customer touch points – that means showroom, workshop and used-car facility -- right now. We will definitely cross 100 this year. Apart from this physical touch points, we will also expand the mobile touch points that I talked about in those 40 cities.

Which are the models that are selling the most for you and what about the rest?

Apart from A4 and Q3, all of our other models are doing good and quite happy with the balance of the sedans and SUVs. We are looking at expanding in both sedan segments and also the Q portfolio. We are happy with A6 and Q7 also, Q7 being the first luxury SUV that we had brought to India and now in its second generation, it is a tremendous success and we are happy.

Are you happy with the sales number of R8 and Cabriolet?

These models are high performance and lifestyle cars. We are not much into volumes for that, but to build the aspirations and brand for Audi.

This is the reason why we launched those cars. For instance, for Cabriolet, there might not be customers at first, but some find it fantastic when they drive it with top down for an evening drive, and they see the need. Our philosophy is to create the needs so that our customers also experience different things.

What are the new launches planned for this year?

We are entering the segments where we have never been, starting this year, and in one or two other segments, we will come up with a surprise. And, this is not to increase the volume necessarily, but also that ‘halo’ factor, which we want to stand out with.

What is your take on the new policies such as the BS-IV norms and GST?

The newer norm is very good for the environment, if fuel quality is ensured. We hope the government will do everything possible to ensure the reach.

On GST, we are currently evaluating the status and we are positive with regard to reducing the complexity of the tax structure. That is something we will appreciate.

With competitors like Merc and Jaguar dropping prices of India-manufactured models, wouldn’t it be tough for you, on being number one again?

We are number two in the luxury cars segment and our target is to be number one, that is where we belong, and we create our activities around to being number one on a sustainable manner.

We don’t have to do it overnight, but the clear vision and clear target is to be there. We had high target and achieved more than what we expected in the first quarter (January-March) this year. For us, competition is always very good and we appreciate competition as it is very fruitful. It inspires us to do things differently.

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Published on April 06, 2017
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