Mumbai: For any of the luxury carmakers, India is still a small market. The cumulative sales of luxury vehicles in India last year is estimated to be around 38,000 units. Still behind the peak of about 40,000 units in 2018. However, with OEMs clocking best-ever sales in 2022, the market is expected to be finally coming of age. “We have been seeing the potential for many years, but it has not really come through to the extent we were expecting. That’s now coming,” Jean-Philippe Parain, Senior Vice President, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, BMW Group, told ETAuto.
Both BMW and its German peer Mercedes-Benz saw a record year in 2022 in terms of sales. For BMW Group India, which sold 11,981 units (BMW+Mini) last year, the 35% YoY growth is a sharp contrast to the 4.5% dip in the Group’s global sales. In terms of share, the India volume though is a tiny part of the Group’s global sales of 2.4 million units last year.
BMW is betting that status will change gradually. 2022 was the second consecutive year for BMW Group India to clock a 30+% growth, and Parain expects the trend to continue this year without stating the target though. BMW is “very confident” for 2023 when it plans to have 18 new offerings for Indian customers.
It’s taking a top-down approach to strengthen the brand connect, with the hope that it will help fuel stronger sales. The seventh generation BMW 7 Series got launched in India on Saturday, along with the first-ever BMW i7, the electric version of the luxury sedan.
The BMW 740i M Sport is priced at INR 1.7 crore, and the BMW i7 xDrive60 sports a price tag INR 1.95 crore. Both the prices are ex-showroom.
The diesel variant will be introduced later. With bookings open now, the deliveries will commence from March 2023, says BMW. “We believe this (new 7 Series) will also really strengthen our brand because a brand image is often built top down,” Parain said.
Appetite for luxury electrics
During 2022, BMW Group India sold 347 electric vehicles (EV) among the model lineup between the BMW and Mini brands. BMW’s iX sold 195 units, the i4 sold 45 units, while the Mini SE found 107 takers last year.
Vikram Pawah, President, BMW Group India, believes the appetite for EVs in the luxury segment too is on the rise. Last year’s sales of BMW and Mini EVs translated to around 3% of the total sales for the Group. The demand could be even more. “The demand side is more like 10% of the overall order intake,” he said.
Even as the appetite in the luxury EV space grows, local assembly of BMW EVs is still some time away. Globally, the German luxury major sold 215,000 EVs, or 9% of its total sales in 2022. The target for this year is to achieve 15% of the global sales from EVs.
For the India business, the new version of the BMW X1 entry level luxury SUV, is slated to follow the new 7 Series later this month.