‘BMW lives from brands and not from sales figures.’

Philipp von Sahr, president, BMW Group India, speaks to Shobha Mathur at the opening of the BMW Group Training Centre in Gurgaon.

By Shobha Mathur calendar 04 Apr 2014 Views icon3491 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘BMW lives from brands and not from sales figures.’

Philipp von Sahr, president, BMW Group India, speaks to Shobha Mathur at the opening of the BMW Group Training Centre in Gurgaon.

How many associates do you plan to train at the new BMW Group Training Centre and what will be the curriculum?
We have a lot of capacity and our plan is to use as much as possible of that capacity which is 18,000 training man-days per year. We have very well educated BMW Group trainers – both internal as well as external trainers – for special topics.
The course curriculum will include sales, aftersales and parts but we also have what is officially called the brand and communication institute, a kind of a brand academy where you learn to feel the brand and also why the brand is important. The learning is not only about the BMW brand but also other brands – what is good about the brand and what are the mistakes in brand-building, why are some successful and unsuccessful.
It is very important in a young, emerging market to have a good feeling for brands – BMW lives from brands and not from sales figures, that we sell more cars in a month than our competitor or whatever. It’s the brand strength that’s the most important. There are a lot of things which help to develop the brand like nice products but also good quality at the dealers end and so on. We will train both dealers’ employees as well as our own employees at the training centre.

Despite the ongoing slowdown, BMW is launching new models in India. It has also fallen behind Mercedes-Benz. What are your comments?
That is only your calculation by volumes but for us it does not help us to be No. 1 in a month or a quarter. You have to be No. 1 in quality and in brand perception. A volume manufacturer talks about volumes but for a premium manufacturer it is more about brand and profitability. It does not help if you make a lot of discount sales and become No. 1 in sales as you destroy the brand.
BMW India has been very tight-lipped about its sales figures for quite some time now. What is the sales projection for the just-launched M6 Gran Coupe?
We have a policy that only once a year we make an announcement about sales figures. We also have a policy that we never talk about sales targets.

How is the Mini doing?
Mini started very well and has stable and good growth and we are still in a phase that we have to make the brand more known. We have four Mini dealers in India – in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. It is the first lifestyle brand that was launched successfully in India, so we are very happy. But the brand awareness is not at the BMW level which is absolutely normal; so there is still some way to go.

You mentioned that four new BMW models will be launched this year. Which variants of the M6 Gran Coupé will we also see?
Yes, there will one more variant to come during the year. For now, we start with the flagship M6 Gran Coupé. At Auto Expo 2014, we launched the 3-series GT and X5, which are produced in Chennai. We have, by far, the most cars from a premium manufacturer produced locally – nine different models. We now have to focus on these models so that they become a success.

How much capacity at BMW India’s Chennai plant is currently being used?
Manufacturing capacity is flexible for different models. There is currently capacity of 70,000 cars at the plant.

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