Luxury carmaker Audi eyes to regain top billing before 2022

Mumbai: German luxury carmaker Audi, which has been witnessing a steep plunge in sales here during the past two years and being pushed to a distant No 3 last year from No 1, expects to claw back to the top slot latest by 2022 and earliest by 2020.

Audi was the No 1 luxury carmaker in the country between 2012 and 2014. But in 2015, its German rival Mercedes yanked away the top slot and continues to remain so. In the meanwhile, another German player BMW clawed back to occupy the second slot, pushing Audi to a distant third position.

Audi, which has stopped reporting its annual sales numbers since 2015 when it had sold 11,192 units, has not yet shared the same for 2016 and 2017, but according to industry sources in 2016 its volume plunged over 30 per cent over 2015 when it lost the top billing to Mercedes. In 2014, Audi had sold 10,851 units against Merc’s 10,201 units and was the market leader.

“We hope to return to top billing by 2020 at the earliest or by 2022 latest. We’ve the right strategy in place and have finalised our product pipeline. But the 10 per cent additional cess proposed last week will be a big challenge for the industry.

“I fear a double-digit dip in our volume if this really implemented. Had it not been so we would have grown in double-digits,” Rahil Ansari, head of Audi India told PTI on Monday in an interview.

The company on Monday launched a petrol variant of its flagship SUV Q7 40 TFSI at starting price of Rs 67.76 lakh. The new vehicle is powered by a 2-litre petrol engine with 252 horse power, capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.9 seconds.

“We’ve taken a strategic decision to increase our petrol mix and started off the process with the launch of the Audi Q3 1.4,” he said, adding by 2020 he sees the petrol-diesel mix to be equal. In 2015 diesel contributed to 90 per cent which came down to 70 in 2016, he added.

Audi’s volume slide continued in the first quarter of 2017 as well reportedly falling a steep 22 per cent to 2,131 units from 2,738 units in the same period of 2016, according to industry sources.

On the contrary, Mercedes sold 13,231 units in 2016 after its sales clipped past 32 per cent in 2015 at 13,502. In the first half of 2017 Mercedes sold 7,171 units.

To further confound the troubles for Audi, BMW saw its volumes jump 14 per cent in 2016 at 7,861 units (7,500 BMW cars and 361 Minis) from 2015 when it had 6,890 units (6,550 BMWs and 340 Minis) and became the No 2 player.

When asked about the numbers not being reported by the company Ansari on Monday said he hopes to do so this year.

“We’ve been consolidating our business in the past few years as one issue or other keep cropping up here. We were happy GST has set the tone for stable and predictable growth. But no more that comfort exits and I don’t understand the rationale for this sudden massive hike. They could have waited for a while to under the ground realities,” said Ansari who succeeded Joe King as Audi India head this February.