Thursday, December 23, 2010

BMW's cheapest model drives into India

In its bid to strengthen leadership position in the Indian luxury car market, BMW India today launched a new sports utility vehicle, 'X1' with a price tag of up to Rs. 29.9 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).The company, which has emerged as the number one during the January-November period beating rival Mercedes, said it has also increased production at its Chennai plant to 8,000 units annually this month from 5,400 units earlier on a single shift in order to meet increasing demand.Bullish on its latest model, the company said it expects the X1 to be its biggest volumes driver in India."Already we have 1,000 orders for the BMW X1 and we are sold out for the first quarter of the next year. We expect the X1 to be the biggest volume model for BMW in India," BMW India President Andreas Schaaf said.
The vehicle will be available in both petrol and diesel variants.While the petrol option will be available for Rs. 22 lakh (ex-showroom, all-India), the diesel variant will have two options priced at Rs. 23.9 lakh and Rs. 29.9 lakh (ex- showroom, all-India), respectively, the company said.At present BMW's 3 Series and the 5 Series sedans are its largest selling models.In the Jan-Nov period, while 3 Series sold 2,220 units, the 5 series sold 2,030 units.The X1 will be assembled at the company's Chennai plant, which also assembles the 3 series and 5 series sedans.Asked if the company would be able to maintain its number one position in the Indian luxury car market, Schaaf said: "We will do utmost to maintain the position. This year we have grown at 60 per cent and we are optimistic of carrying forward the momentum in the next year also."According to the latest Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers figures, BMW sold 5,345 units compared to 5,109 units sold by Mercedes Benz during Jan-Nov period this year.Commenting on the overall growth of the luxury car market in India, he said it is expected to be around 15,000 units this year, up from 8,500 units last year."India is still a growing market, it is not yet matured and we are creating market with the launch of new vehicles. If the market continues to grow at 25 per cent, in ten years time India will be among the top 10 markets of BWM globally," Schaaf said.On the production increase at the Chennai plant, he said it has been achieved by optimising process and additional manpower."We have added 200 more people and by the end of the year we will have a total of 400 people at the plant."On the company's plans to enter the premium bike market in India, he said BMW has not yet started business in the segment although some bikes are already in India and deliveries are expected to start by January.