Audi India expects some good surprises with Q2, its smallest SUV providing launched just lately. In a tete-a-tete with ET Auto, Balbir Singh Dhillon, head of Audi India, shares the brand new initiatives and the methods to enhance gross sales in the course of the buoyant festive season. “We’ve witnessed an increase in gross sales in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The contribution to volumes is rising steadily. Our digital initiatives are additionally taking us nearer to the purchasers in smaller cities,” he stated. Edited excerpts:
Q. Along with your sturdy line-up of SUVs, what’s in retailer for the newly-launched Q2? Will it assist Audi improve SUV gross sales and breach the present 46% mark and screech previous the sedans portfolio within the Indian market?
We’ve been extraordinarily profitable with our Q vary of autos in India, and Audi Q2 needs to be no totally different. It’s a ‘luxurious all-rounder’ that’s huge on options and extends the profitable Q-family. Audi Q2 is focused on the more and more progressive, younger and concrete prospects. It is going to open new avenues for the model by serving to us attain a brand new set of consumers and entice prospects in a brand new section.
SUVs have been an integral a part of Audi India’s line-up since 2006 and already account for 46% of the overall gross sales for Audi in India. With the introduction of Audi Q2, adopted by different new technology Q fashions, we count on the share of SUVs to maneuver up within the coming years. Our present SUV product portfolio, together with Audi Q8, Audi Q8 Celebration version and the top-line Audi RS Q8, is doing effectively and solidifying our class management. In parallel, our focus will proceed to be on sedans and top-of-the-line fashions.
Q. Do you intend to assemble extra of your CBU fashions to qualify for decrease taxes and make the costs aggressive for the Indian prospects? What is the technique to propel your gross sales within the pricier sports activities vary?
For the native manufacturing of any mannequin in a rustic, we should always have a robust enterprise case, ideally over 85%-90% of our volumes. It’s our ongoing endeavour to supply extra cars in India in order that we will provide them to a wider vary of shoppers. For the high-end luxurious vehicles and the sportier vary, our focus has been on a top-down technique.
We quickly introduced in merchandise like Audi A8L, Audi Q8, and the RS fashions that labored on the high of the road. At this finish of the posh section, our focus has been on their personalization; each such automobile is exclusive and displays its proprietor’s persona. These merchandise are model shapers and vital a part of our product portfolio and technique.
We deal with C & D section vehicles, and their success is a sworn statement to the model’s enchantment on the top-end. Wanting on the larger image, we want a beneficial coverage framework to increase the posh section in India. We’ve to remember that the posh section is simply 1.0% of the general Indian passenger car (PV) market.
Q. What’s the gross sales development throughout this era of COVID-19? Is there a shift in client profile as Audi has youthful audiences and prospects in its portfolio?
The gross sales development on this COVID-19 interval has a dramatic change, and we’re witnessing a return in demand. We registered the very best gross sales of Audi A6 in August 2020 since its launch in October 2019. This tells us that demand for luxurious vehicles is right here. The buyer profile has shifted little or no for us at Audi.
Businessmen and ladies, who used to journey shorter distances by flights, are actually opting to drive or to be pushed slightly than take a flight. The youthful technology is extra aspiring and extra keen to spend their cash. Many kids aspire to get into the lap of luxurious. We opened bookings for the Audi Q2 solely on October 3, however have acquired over 100 bookings.
This validates our confidence that there’s an inherent demand available in the market for compact luxurious vehicles that supply nice worth. Many of those prospects are first-time entrants to the posh area and need to benefit from the way of life related to the Audi model.
We’ve additionally witnessed an increase in gross sales in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The contribution to volumes is rising steadily. Our digital initiatives are additionally taking us nearer to the purchasers in smaller cities which have a big impression on our gross sales. We’ve taken the digital expertise to the residing rooms of our prospects and are giving them the pliability to buy their Audi of selection.
We’ve had over 40k interactions on AR the place fanatics, prospects and potential prospects have interacted with the model within the lockdown interval, throughout Could-June 2020. As we speak, 18%-20% of our gross sales come from the net medium. Everyone seems to be linked on their telephones, and every little thing is accessible on-line – this was the genesis of our digitalization technique. Our app ‘myAudi Join’ gives thrilling customer-centric options. The most recent model of the app gives a number of extra capabilities.
They embody login for Audi Membership India members, cost choices to allow in-app merchandise buy, unique gives from Audi Concierge on car-life merchandise and on-line assist and help. All these are inside a safe framework and in compliance with information safety laws. These options are supplied as commonplace for all Audi prospects. Potential prospects and fanatics get entry to options like augmented actuality, placement of take a look at drive requests, product brochures and repair value calculators amongst others.
Q. Does Audi really feel that the following progress could be from small cities and cities the place the present demand lies? Please share your experiences and examples as your community in Karnal, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Baroda, and so on. is bringing in good numbers.
Our gross sales in Tier-II and Tier-III cities are rising progressively, and we count on it to choose up additional in the course of the festive season and thru 2021. With a rise in disposable incomes and aspirations of proudly owning world manufacturers, the contribution to the quantity is rising steadily from smaller cities. We additionally see a optimistic development of shoppers in these cities who’ve an urge for food for efficiency and way of life vehicles with new physique kinds.
Over the last 5 years, our share of gross sales from non-metro markets has grown by 10% to over 50% now. As a model, we proceed to increase our footprint in areas that exhibit rising aspirations to personal luxurious vehicles. For Audi India, the thought is to determine areas which can be vital sooner or later. By means of our ‘Workshop First’ technique, we’re getting into Tier-II cities with a Service First promise.
The idea is to open an Audi workshop to service the automobile parc in a specific city, which can be obtainable in that location owing to showroom proximity. Our on-line engagements haven’t solely are available in from metros but additionally different cities like Karnal, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Baroda, and so on.
Lastly, ‘Audi Accredited: plus’, our pre-owned automobile division, has been displaying good progress even when the general market was constrained; it grew at 11% in 2019. We imagine that it will be one of many main progress drivers for us in future as now we have a transparent deal with promoting each automobile twice, if no more.
By means of the pre-owned automobile programme, we can provide a brand new part of shoppers the Audi expertise even earlier than they purchase a brand new Audi automobile. Versatile monetary merchandise and “Automotive Life” merchandise like Service Package deal as much as eight years, Prolonged Guarantee as much as seven years (segment-first) and Roadside Help (segment-first) as much as 11 years are additionally obtainable for pre-owned prospects.
Q. Audi focuses not solely on rising gross sales volumes but additionally on growing the model profitably and sustainably. How do you justify your shift in technique as you recede to 3rd/fourth spot within the luxurious section?
At Audi, we need to be essentially the most progressive premium model with the very best buyer expertise. We need to be the model with the best enchantment, fascinating customer-relevant improvements and breathtaking design. We’ve to bear in mind a complete ecosystem. It’s essential that we ship the very best worth to our prospects, retail companions and different stakeholders.
As a model, we need to win, however win holistically; our sustainable enterprise mannequin shapes the way forward for Audi in India and globally too. Audi India has charted out a five-year plan, ‘Technique 2025,’ that focuses on 4 key pillars: Buyer Centricity, Merchandise, Digitalisation and Community. Even in these troubled instances, now we have made progress in the direction of our bigger sustainable progress. I’d be comfortable if we’re primary, however I’d be happier if all our stakeholders develop sustainably. As a model, we’re centered on rising profitably and sustainably.
Q. What is the scope of Digitalisation? How has been the expertise along with your prospects? How are the augmented actuality (AR) and digital actuality (VR) experiment going for Audi’s on-line and on-site gross sales?
Digital customer-centric initiative is a spotlight space for Audi and a key pillar of the ‘Technique 2025.’ Audi India is the primary luxurious carmaker to unveil and introduce a digitalization roadmap, “myAudi Join.” The most recent model of the ‘myAudi Join’ app builds on options like buyer security and safety, driver behaviour information, Audi Concierge facility, geo-location and repair bookings that had been supplied earlier.
Potential prospects and fanatics get entry to options together with AR, placement of take a look at drive requests, product brochures and repair value calculators, amongst others. Since its introduction in Could 2020, there was an actual spike within the variety of individuals reaching out digitally; and distinctive visits on our web site have gone up 35% over final yr. Configurations on the web site have seen 50% spike this yr in comparison with the earlier. And 18%-20% of Audi India’s lead technology– which finally converts into purchases – occurs via on-line channels, and that is rising.
Greater than 40k AR experiences have been taken simply in the course of the lockdown interval (Could-July). We aren’t forcing this to occur by pushing standard bookings or gross sales to on-line by offering any freebie or incentive, however we’re progress to occur organically.
Q. Has Audi India been capable of resolve its ‘vendor misery’? How are you coping with your gross sales and repair companions and ending buyer woes by addressing their perpetual issues?
There isn’t any ‘vendor misery’ at model Audi. Our vendor companions are our key model pillars. COVID-19 has grounded the complete worth chain of the automotive enterprise in India; impacting all stakeholders. At Audi India, now we have taken a number of initiatives to ease the burden on our ‘companions’ and that has helped us come out of it collectively.
A few of these steps that now we have taken embody optimizing stock ranges and sharing curiosity prices for our companions. Most of our coaching is being undertaken on-line resulting in value and time financial savings. We’ve invested closely on our digital platforms which can be serving to our companions develop their enterprise on-line. Additionally, for a long-term sustainable enterprise, now we have taken many actions to help our companions’ profitability and short-term liquidity.
Q. With an excessive vary for gross sales in India, what are the launch plans to increase your portfolio as competitors goes on a product offensive. How would Audi India steal the thunder?
There are thrilling instances forward. Audi Q2 is our sixth product within the final ten months, and another product goes to come back this yr, adopted by many extra subsequent yr. We’ll proceed to convey extra fashions into the nation, which can be a superb mixture of quantity merchandise in addition to top-end and area of interest merchandise. The problem is not stealing the thunder or taking share from one another; it will be significant we develop the posh automobile market altogether.
Q. How is the festive season going, is a revival seemingly?
A: In an effort to kick begin the festive celebrations, we launched the Audi Q8 Celebration mannequin priced at INR 98.98 lakh ex-showroom. Since its profitable launch in January this yr, Audi Q8 has acquired an amazing response, and we’re assured that with the brand new Q8 Celebration we can widen the enchantment of this irresistible Q SUV mannequin. For the newly-launched Audi Q2, we’re providing a ‘Peace of Thoughts’ package deal that comes bundled with a whole service package deal and a couple of+3 years roadside help. That is for the convenience of possession for the shopper who’s getting into the lap of luxurious. We’ve additionally commenced our Festive Celebration Programmes on sure merchandise together with Audi A6, for this festive season with a decrease charge of curiosity or peace of thoughts package deal, as much as 5 years.