Aston Martin to up the ante in India

Dream machine James Bond movies make Aston Martin more popular in India

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DB11 is expected be its chief sales catalyst

Under a busy flyover on a dark unpaved road in Mumbai, sounds of a roar can often be heard behind half drawn shutters. And this is no killer beast but a dream machine on wheels that has been James Bond’s trusty companion since the time Goldfinger hit the screens in 1964.

Aston Martin’s world in Mumbai has two faces. One is the sprawling showroom in upmarket Worli but its low-profile buyers would rather sneak into the garage under the less glamorous Mahalaxmi flyover. Quite unlike 007 who revels in the limelight, this category of buyers shuns the limelight.

When this writer recently went to take a look at Aston Martin’s latest offering, the DB11, the only model available was a left hand drive. It was here that customers were taking turns to check out the optimal combination of thrill and luxury. They would then book it even before taking a test drive.

“Many of our buyers do not even want to come to our showroom and would rather meet us at the garage to keep away from the limelight. Unlike a Ferrari customer who wants to be noticed, an Aston buyer wants to make a subtle statement,” says Lalit Choudary, MD of Infinity Cars and the city’s sole dealer for this brand.

A typical Aston Martin buyer is a businessman who is in the 50-60 year age group with a young son who loves to drive as well. This way, both get to share the gorgeous beast and is a better alternative to the lad buying a Ferrari which his father cannot fit into.

Clearly, this British beauty does not come in cheap at a whopping ₹4.27 crore (ex-showroom Mumbai), loaded with the top end V12 engine and reaching top speeds of 321 kmph. Add taxes and the price tag is a giddy ₹5.20 crore which is still no deterrent to the passionate buyer.

Aston Martin entered India in 2011 and 30 units were sold in its first two years. Thereafter, the going has been tough thanks largely to the steep hike in import duty on luxury cars from 110 to 184 per cent. Currency fluctuations vis-a-vis the UK pound fuelled the price spiral while demand in India plummeted in a sluggish economic scenario. Consequently, only 70 Aston Martins have been sold over the last five years.

According to Choudhary, the tepid showing was also due to the absence of a full portfolio to suit all customers in the high luxury segment. “So far, we have had Rapide which costs ₹3.25 crore or the much higher priced Vanquish at ₹5.5 crore. The DB11 fits perfectly between the two and helps us attract Ferrari and Lamborghini buyers,” Choudhary said.

After a two-year lull, the buoyancy is back in the market while Brexit has led to the pound turning cheaper. With these strong tailwinds, Aston Martin hopes to outsell Ferrari and Lamborghini from next year.

The DB11 could be the key growth engine in this script and has a lot of benefits to offer. It does not require the user to mark speed-breakers on a map before taking it out or worry about 97 octane fuel that is often hard to find. The car has a good ground clearance for Indian roads and can handle even 95 octane fuel. The stage is set for Aston Martin to roar in this part of the world.

Published on October 13, 2016

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