Porsche India launched the third-generation Cayenne SUV in Mumbai today Pavan Shetty, director, Porsche India, spoke to Sumantra B Barooah and Nilesh Wadhwa on the sales expectations from the new model and various aspects of the German carmaker’s India business.
The Cayenne is one of the more popular models for the Porsche brand in India. How much does the model contribute to the company’s presence in India?
The Cayenne contributes around 45 percent to the Porsche portfolio in India and with that logic becomes one of the important products. We have done some customer connect with these cars in the last six months and the kind of interest that we have received has been phenomenal. A quite large number of customers have shown interest, booked cars and it is for us to give the experience to people on how it has graduated or evolved over the next level of driving.
The Cayenne is a technological masterpiece; for instance, it has a rear-wheel steering and high-performance Porsche Surface Coated Brakes. It has all the features that you would expect from a sportscar in an SUV.
What is the sales mix you expect among the three variants?
Sixty to 70 percent could be the V6 and 30 percent could be the Hybrid and the Turbo. But the response has been phenomenal.
Porsche has decided to stop manufacturing diesel vehicles globally. The diesel Cayenne was the bestseller here. How does this change the dynamics of the brand in India?
If you look back, the traditional reason why diesel variants were preferred in India was that at some point in time the price differential between diesel and petrol prices was a big one. The price of diesel was around 50 percent of petrol. Now, with the diminishing gap between diesel and petrol prices, it doesn't really matter.
On the other hand, on the legislation front, for example in Delhi at present a diesel vehicle can be registered for only 10 years, while a petrol variant stays for 15 years and a hybrid can stay even longer. When people buy such expensive cars, they are also looking at longevity. The petrol cars you see these days are no longer like the ones before. For example, the new Cayenne takes a little more than 3 litres of petrol for 100km; for an SUV, it is not something that you expect.
Cars have evolved as have people. When we started at looking at the consumer interest for the new Cayenne, there was not even a single buyer who asked 'Why is there no diesel variant? I will not buy it if there is no diesel option.' We have zero cases like that. The customer perception for petrol and its acceptance is high. If you look at the way the future is evolving, it is electrification, it is hybrid. We are moving towards that as a group, as the entire world is going in that direction. Over the past few years, diesel has been important but the proportion of it (diesel vehicles) has been going down. We are a sports car company and 35 percent of our portfolio comprises sports cars. So petrol and Porsche are synonymous – people don't look at us as a company which is manufacturing diesel cars. People see us as a company which makes sports cars.
In terms of clientele, you added around 400 customers for Porsche last year. Which segment is the major contributor in terms of customer profile?
Our average customer is around 40 years old, for sports car it would be less, SUVs a little more. Typically, we have the second-generation businessmen/businesswomen and corporates buying the Porsche brand. It is quite young compared to the global age group of customers for Porsche.
What is your market share in the sports car segment?
Honestly, we don't have a formal or official forum where the sales numbers get exchanged here but we believe we have a majority share. Not knowing the exact numbers, if you look at the kind of sports cars involved with Porsche, I think more or less we are in a very strong position. Leading or no, will depend if I know the numbers. Since I don't know the numbers, it's wrong for me to comment on it.
What will be, approximately, the annual Indian market size in this segment?
The luxury car market size is around 38,000-40,000 units expected for this year. We are in a very different segment. We do not really belong to that segment which has cars that fall into the very entry level stage; we belong to the super luxury sports cars segment. For instance, the Cayenne will compete with someone, Boxster with someone else, Panamera with another. There is not just one segment where all our cars fit in.
When you talk about luxury, you usually do not think about volumes or market share; it’s more about exclusivity. It is more about being custom-made, more about customer’s preference delivered to him/her as per choice. Porsche is not usually the first car in somebody's life, it is the last car. That is why market share and figures usually don't apply here.
How many outlets does Porsche India have at present and are you planning to expand further?
We have six dealerships in the country. We are very careful with this also because then we look at the market analysis, what is the need of the dealers, will it be viable and then of course is there potential to grow. Right now, there is no decision on that front.
Porsche globally is looking to have an electric powertrain for each of its models. Would the company look at bringing the same in India?
Yes, of course. We will look at making all our products available in the country, including the electric and hybrid models.
Also see: 2018 Porsche Cayenne Turbo review, test drive