India is a key market for Rolls-Royce, with potential sales of 130 to 150 super luxury cars annually, says a spokesperson for the legendary British automotive manufacturer.
The 108-year-old carmaker, which returned to India in 2005, has been witnessing strong growth since 2010 and has plans of expanding its reach.
Rolls-Royce currently offers Indian customers six versions of its Ghost and Phantom models, with a price range of ₹ 3.2 crore to ₹ 4.9 crore.
Addressing a niche segment of the motor car industry, Rolls-Royce is currently selling 'close to 100 cars' but hopes to cross the three-digit figure in 2014.
'The year 2013 might not be easiest one. Pre-election year in any country is challenging,' Herfried Hasenoehrl, Rolls-Royce general manager, Emerging Markets Asia, told IANS in an exclusive interview.
'What makes India so unique is its persistence, diversity, the sheer size and its strength to overcome obstacles. There are some challenges but we know India will overcome them. We already see some signs of recovery,' he said.
With a growing number of ultra-rich individuals and an untapped market, the luxury car makers are positive about increasing sales in India.
'I am convinced the yearly potential in this market is easily 130 to 150 cars based on the number of ultra high net worth individuals you have in this country. The number is really high. It is a very strong four digit number,' Hasenoehrl added.
Hasenoehrl believes that despite some challenges in the economy, the desire of the super-rich to go for ultimate luxury has not weaned.
'There are signs that it is still growing in India. However, it is overshadowed by so many different aspects of economic and political life,' he said of the market for luxury goods in India.
'In the Asia Pacific region, with the set-up with which we are planning to go ahead, India will remain a major market. Last year it was the third largest market. I know it could be number one,' he added.
Rolls-Royce has sold just 250 cars in India since 2005, while the annual sales in China are over 1000. China has 22 dealers while India has just three with the third one opening only last week in Hyderabad.
Hyderabad had the first tryst with Rolls Royce way back in 1912 when a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was delivered to Mir Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad. The VIIth Nizam, reputed to have been the richest man of his time, is said to have collected 50 Rolls-Royces.
During 1907 and 1947, of the 3600 Rolls-Royce cars sold globally, India accounted for more than 1,000.
'Customers we are looking at in Hyderabad today mostly come from real estate, construction, entrepreneurship in IT or those who inherited wealth. Most of them are not affected by whatever is going on,' Hasenoehrl said, referring to the economic slowdown.
'Those were the Nizams of that time. Now days we have business Nizams. These are the people who drive today's economy,' he added.
Rolls-Royce has plans to open dealerships in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad this year.