BMW looking to cash in on people spending on luxury cars as Covid curbs holidays
With the coronavirus pandemic curbing international holidays to exotic locations, German auto major BMW is looking to cash in on people spending on luxury cars in India even as it expects sales this year to be lower than 2019, according to a top company official.
Like what has happened elsewhere in the world, the company expects car demand to pick up substantially in India as the country gradually moves towards fully opening up following phased lifting of the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
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"The indication from the world, the countries which have gone through the flattening of the curve, is a stronger return of the auto sector, specially of the luxury sector because one of the important things to note is that when we are not travelling so much through international holidays or to exotic locations, we still want to be able to enjoy our freedom," BMW Group India, Australia and New Zealand, President Vikram Pawah told PTI.
Cars, especially luxury cars, are one of those items which people would love to reward themselves with after the crisis is over, he added.
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Stating that India is just reaching the stage of flattening the curve but has not flattened as yet, Pawah said,"I do expect that (pick up in car demand) to happen a little bit stronger once we flattened the curve. Every country would have that."
He further said,"Human behaviour is pretty similar. One is personal mobility and also what happens is that once you are buying now, you are really thinking that I want to have the latest technology, latest safety, latest emission technology that are available in the world. I think the luxury segment, specially BMW, has been providing world cars to India from day one."
When asked about the sustainability of the current car demand, Pawah said, one thing clearly shaping up across the world is that people are coming back to individual mobility or personal mobility and avoiding shared mobility and that creates a pent-up demand.
"That has happened across the world. In India also we have seen that pent-up demand now showing up."
Slowly with the festive period, he said,"We are seeing that people are coming back to some level of engagement there. So we see improvements month-on-month, week-on-week. We expect that to continue."
On the outlook for 2020, Pawah said there is no doubt that 2020 would be subdued than 2019. "We have to look at it from that perspective that recovering a quarter's sales loss from the balance six months is not possible."
While sales have improved quarter-on-quarter, he said,"At the moment we are sitting at 41.2 per cent decline for the year..."
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In 2019, BMW India sold 9,641 units, down 13.8 per cent as compared to 11,105 units in the previous year.
Commenting on the impact of Covid-19 on the company's new launch programme, Pawah said,"When such decline in sales happens it does impact the supply chain a little bit, in terms of introduction of some of the models. Yes, some of our model launches have been delayed to next year like the new 5 Series and the new 6 Series Gran Turismo, these two have been delayed to next year for the time being."
He, however, added,"We will come back strong, it is only a matter of timing. It is not something that has gone away. It has not changed our strategy or our plan. It is just that we have to adjust the time depending on the supply chain situation that existed in the timeframe."
Last week, the company had launched its BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé model in India at introductory prices of ₹39.3 lakh and ₹41.4 lakh in diesel engine variant, looking to enter new segments of the luxury car market in the country as it prepares to spur demand.