Chennai: German luxury car maker BMW would introduce locally manufactured premium SUV (sports utility vehicle) X5 and high end GT series in India this year, a top official said on Tuesday.
The launch of new cars are part of the company's "sustainable growth strategy," according to BMW India Managing Director Robert Frittrang.
"We are adding new models. We have increased our model range from seven BMW models to nine this year. So, 2014 we will end up with 9 different models which includes Mini models," he told reporters after attending a conference on Conscious Competitiveness organised by Confederation of Indian Industry, here.
Elaborating about the company's launches in India, he said: "At the AutoExpo, the interest was on the most famous car -- the i8. We also spoke about the upcoming cars. We spoke a lot about the GT series which will be introduced soon in India."
He said GT series is a concept car that offers more room, longer wheel base. Besides, introducing the GT series, he said the company would also introduce premium SUV X5 as a "locally" manufactured product competing with Mercedes Benz M-Class.
He said the X5 model range would join the other products X1 and X3 range of SUVs which are also produced at the company's plant here.
"Already, we are producing X3 and X1 in India. Now as the flagship, the X5 will be added as a locally produced car this year," he said.
Noting that it India has become "very aggressive" market, Frittrang said, "BMW achieved No1 last year in 2013 again, worldwide. This year, we call it as a sustainable growth strategy in India. We will be focusing on profitable sustainable growth".
"We are thinking now where do we want to focus, on which car segment in India. The marketing team would device the strategy with a focus on sustainable growth. It can be put in place from next month...," he said.
Asked about the benefits that company would get by producing cars locally, he said, "it is a worldwide strategy to produce locally to penetrate into the market and to get the market share. If you import a CBU car in the country, you will not be price competitive."
He said the locally produced car would be on par with the specification and quality levels of the same car produced in the company's manufacturing facilities located in United States and in Germany.
Observing that the luxury segment in India was about 35,000 to 40,000 units a year now, he said:
"We are focusing only on sustainable growth.
On the impact of Indian rupee against the dollar in the backdrop of BMW importing parts to assemble its cars in India, he said Indian Rupee roughly had about 15 percent drop in compared to Euro. It had a very big effect on us because we are importing the part.
"We expect there will be some improvement after election for the industry", he said.
Commenting about the customs excise issue which the company faced last year, he said: "Still we are closely working together with tax authorities here in Chennai and Delhi. And I think, we need to come to a conclusion this year."
On the price of X5 and GT series he declined to reveal it and added it would be announced only during the market launch.
"Market launch will be in 2014. We have to find the right fortune. GT Series will also be introduced," he said.
Currently, BMW India has about 50 dealership network across India and the capacity at its facility near Chennai is about 11,000 units in one shift.
First Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 20:00