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File photo used here for representational purpose only.
File photo used here for representational purpose only.

Audi India plans to race in RS models to rev up product portfolio

  • Audi India is planning to drive in volume products as well as niche RS sports models.
  • Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head at Audi India, tells HT Auto that while diesel is not off the table, focus remains on mild hybrids.

Audi India may currently only have just three models in their product portfolion in the country - A6, A8 L and Q8, but all of that is all set to change with plans of driving in more luxury cars, including sports vehicles under the RS badge.

Speaking to HT Auto, Balbir Singh Dhillon - Head, Audi India, highlighted how Covid-19 pandemic may have thrown up challenges but that plans of adding to Audi's product portfolio remains on track. "When we were moving from BS 4 to BS 6, we had to take certain decision on which models and what technologies. We made two strong decisions for Audi in India. First was that we will bring only completely new models to India, or next generation, or product improvment and not just keep the same cars. Second decision was that we will move from diesel and petrol combination to petrol and electrification. You currently see three models but as we move on, we'll have more products not just in space of volume but also in the space of sports vehicles," he said. "So, you'll see a lot of RS models coming in and also volumes."

(Also read: Audi India goes digital, launches online car sales amid coronavirus pandemic)

Highlighting that the reception of models launched towards the end of 2019 and early 2020 have been positive, Dhillon also said that the new emphasis on non-diesel vehicles has found favour. "There are still some customers who want only diesel. We are working with them. All cars we have now are mild hybrids. In general, there's a lot of positive acceptability of the new technologies and we don't have a big negative of not having diesel cars," he explained.

Diesel Audi vehicles used to form the bulk of sales for the company in India but recent years have seen the ratio steering in favour of petrol models. Dhillon has always maintained that Audi is not saying farewell to diesel technology but continues to examine its prospects. "At this point in time, I maintain that diesel is not off the cards, we are still contemplating, evaluating. But when we take such bold steps, we have to move on with such bold steps for at least year and a half to two years to see their full impact - positive or negative," he said. "So we will have to ride past that time to see the impact, which I am pretty confident will be positive, and then take a call on if we need to bring in diesel."

While 24 months may provide a definite time frame to decide on the fate of diesel for Audi, the present is gradually returning to some semblance of normalcy after weeks of lockdown kept showrooms and workshops shut.

Dhillon said that these facilities are gradually resuming operations as per local and national guidelines and that precautions are being taken to keep employees and customers safe, including offering cutting-edge digital services.

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