After a two-and-a-half-year stint as head of Audi India, Rahil Ansari is moving to Germany to take charge as Senior Director – Central Sales Controlling (Global) at Audi AG. Ansari, who has a broad range of experience in finance, sales, network development, retail operations and aftersales business, had taken over as Audi India chief on February 1, 2017.
Ansari is being replaced by Balbir Singh Dhillon, currently Head of Network Development at Audi India. Dhillon, who has over 23 years of experience in the automotive OEM field and around 12 years with the Volkswagen Group, will be tasked with reviving the luxury carmaker’s sales in India. Dhillon assumes office as Audi India’s new head from September 1, 2019.
According to Mr. Michael Frisch, Vice-President Region Overseas Audi AG, “Rahil’s contribution has been immense for Audi India. He was a true representative of Brand India at Audi AG and has created the foundation for future success. The work he has done will provide the basis for a sustainable business and profitable network in India with new digital customer centric activities. Rahil’s strong business acumen has been highly acknowledged in the HQ, which is why he has been offered such a senior position.”
“I firmly believe that the experience I have gained in India in my various stints has gone on to help me in my global assignments. If you are able to delight the Indian customer and navigate the Indian market complexities, you gain insights which are invaluable. While I am looking forward to my new stint, I will truly miss the great team and Audi India family with who I had some fantastic times. I have known Balbir closely over the years and am confident he will play a pivotal role in realising Audi’s objectives in the country,” said Ansari.
Commenting on Balbir Singh Dhillon’s appointment, Frisch said, “Balbir has been a part of the Audi team in India and Middle-East and we are confident that he will take the brand forward in India even as market tries to buck external factors and grow. He brings with him a sound knowledge of the brand, the luxury segment and automotive sector spanning his 23 years of local and global experience, which bodes well for us.”
Dhillon re-joined Audi India in July 2018 after his previous stint between 2007 and 2012 as Head of Sales Field Force. He has well rounded experience of sales, network profitability, business strategy and field sales. He is currently responsible for network profitability and business planning in his role as Head of Dealer Development. He has had stints at Audi Middle East, Porsche India and Honda India in his previous roles.
“My singular focus will be on taking Audi ahead in a sustainable and profitable manner with delight for all our stakeholders in addition to customers. Rahil has already set in motion a new momentum for us and I look forward to build on that foundation as we move towards era of electrification and digitalisation in India,” said Dhillon.
2018 was a challenging year for Audi India as sales fell 18 percent YoY to 6,463 units (2017: 7,876 units). It was the second consecutive year in which the brand struggled to find traction after being hit by the GST cess hike in 2017, when it posted two percent growth. The carmaker attributed this drop in sales to the closure of its largest dealership, located in Delhi NCR, where it typically records maximum deliveries. Also, Audi India had fewer launches in 2018 as compared with its peers. It introduced Q5 petrol and diesel, RS5 Coupé and two special-edition models each, for the Q3 and Q7.
Despite the drop in numbers, Audi India expects to get the momentum going this year and has lined up models like the all-new A8 and the updated R8 for launch. It is even planning to introduce the all-electric E-tron in India soon and is targeting over 200 unit sales of the electric five-seat SUV in India.
Read more: Luxury car market feels the sting of a challenging 2018