The BMW Group, which comprises the BMW, Mini and BMW Motorrad sub-brands, is riding high on the success of its premium model offerings in India. The Group, which registered cumulative sales of 9,800 units in CY2017, grew at a notable 25 percent overall growth rate (CY2016: 7,035 units).
While BMW sales comprised the major chunk at 9,379 units (+25%), a total of 421 Minis were sold in the same period, posting a substantial growth of 17 percent for a rather niche brand.
With the second-generation, the Mini Countryman will be locally produced after a momentary hiatus and with the crossover now being aggressively priced at Rs 34.90 lakh ex-showroom, India, the BMW Group is aiming to double Mini’s volumes in this calendar, once the car starts reaching showrooms from June onwards.
Speaking to Autocar Professional on the sidelines of the launch of the Countryman, Vikram Pawah, president, BMW Group India, said, “The Indian luxury car market is merely 1.02 percent of the overall passenger vehicle segment, which is quite disturbing considering that even countries like Vietnam see luxury cars contributing to over 3 percent of the total vehicle sales. Hence, with our ‘Power to Lead’ strategy, we aim at growing the luxury car sales by leading from the front and we intend to create new categories and not just see growth from a perspective of the number of models on offer in the country.”
Excerpts from the interview:
What is your strategy for brand Mini in India with the new Countryman?
Mini, as a brand, is 50 years old and an iconic one now. Who would have known that what started off as a car being designed on a napkin by Sir Alec Issigonis, would grow into such a legacy? In India, however, it is only six years young, where we have five cars on offer as of now.
Over the past six years, we have been able to establish Mini as a niche premium car brand in India by offering luxury hatchbacks. Last year, sales stood at 421 units with 17 percent growth and Q1 of CY2018 between January to March has already seen 136 units getting sold, bringing in a significant growth of 15 percent. With the new Countryman now getting assembled locally, we intend to multiply the volumes for the Mini brand and aim to double the sales.
You had suspended the local production of the Mini sometime before. Does the Countryman now resume that?Prior to the Countryman’s launch, the entire Mini line-up in India was CBU. However, all Mini Clubman variants will now be produced locally at our Chennai plant from June onwards. Similar to other BMW models, 50 percent of the content is being sourced locally and that is how we have been able to price the Countryman competitively. We keep looking to enhance localisation to bring more value to our customers.
What is the customer base for Mini in India?
The customer base for Mini in India is well over 2,500 owners and we are aiming to multiply that number in the coming times, while still keeping it niche.
How is Mini positioned in India and what is the average customer age?
Mini attracts all set of customers. It has got nothing to do with age, rather it has to do with a customer's attitude. Mini has a unique brand identity, with which people want to show their personality, and project a rebel.
While it is seeing good growth from Tier 1 cities, BMW Group is witnessing the impetus of the surge coming in from the Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns, which it prefers to classify as 'emerging markets’.
The new Countryman then, is a part of its theme for 2018 - 'Simply Unstoppable’, which is a subset of its bigger three-year strategy until 2020 - 'Power to Lead’.
Also read: Second-gen Mini Countryman launched in India at Rs 34.9 lakh