BMW bets on SUVs to set the pace


    BMW expects one out of every two vehicles it sells in the country to be an SUV.

    ET Bureau
    Mumbai: Having grown in double digits in a falling luxury car market in 2018, Munich-based luxury car maker BMW India is banking on a new range of half a dozen sports utility vehicles or SUVs to continue outpacing peers.

    Riding on the popularity of SUVs, BMW expects one out of every two vehicles that it sells in the country to be an SUV. While it has traditionally had a portfolio of three SUVs locally assembled in India – the X1, X3 and X5 – it will now complement these with the X4, the X6 and the X7 with the latter to be launched later this year. The X4 and X7 will be locally assembled, whereas the X6 will be brought in a completely built unit.

    “SUVs, SAVs (Sports Activity Vehicles), SACs (Sports Activity Coupes) are in demand and we believe that what we have seen in the last couple of years will continue in the future with these cars gaining market share over sedans,” Hans-Christian Bartels, president of BMW Group India, told ET during the launch of the 2019 X5 SUV, which carries a starting ex-showroom price tag of Rs 72.9 lakh.

    BMW plans to launch 12 new vehicles in 2019 and will completely revamp its existing SUV portfolio to align its products with global updates to excite prospective buyers.

    In 2018, BMW India Group sales grew 13% on the back of new launches. The company sold 11,105 units, including sales under the Mini brand. In the same period, the overall Indian luxury car market grew only 5% with cumulative sales of about 40,850 units. The slowdown at its peers helped BMW increase market share to 27% at the end of 2018, the highest since 2012.

    Not only has the company outsold its peers, but financially BMW bounced back to profits after registering loss in FY-17. According to the financials shared by the company with ministry of corporate affairs, BMW India registered a profit of Rs 116 crore in FY-18 from a loss of Rs 144 crore. The company registered in FY-17. ET sourced the financials from Veratech Intelligence Private Limited. Sources said, BMW has sustained its profitable performance in FY-19, but financials are yet to be filed.

    According to people in the know, the company is planning production of 12400 units for 2019, which 10% higher than 11,000 units in 2018.

    Bartels withheld giving a definitive sales forecast for the current year citing uncertainties from factors such as the ongoing general elections and the impending switch to BS-VI emission norms from April 2020. He maintained, however, that BMW will outpace the market.
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