Luxury cars overtake budget cars in speed of growth

For the first time, robust sales of luxury cars like Merced00es-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo Cars have beaten the growth in mass market cars in Asia’s third biggest economy.

Sales of luxury cars jumped to an estimated 15 per cent to 38,659 units in calendar year 2017, while the mass market cars likes Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Honda, among others, grew by just 9 per cent to 2.98 million units in 2017.

Mercedes-Benz, the luxury car market leader in India, which would announce its numbers on Monday, is likely to post sales close to or breach the 15,000 units historic mark, a new milestone for the luxury car industry in the country.

The Stuttgart-headquartered auto major is already ahead of competition with sale of 11,869 cars in nine months to September last year, regaining pole position among luxury car firms for a third year in a row. It has recorded a growth of a whopping 20 per cent during nine months.

It compatriot archrival BMW, the second biggest luxury car maker by sales, closed the year selling 25 per cent more cars at 9,800 units, including 421 Minis, as against 7,861 units sold in 2016.

Sales at Audi, which was relegated to number three in 2016, grew by 2 per cent last year at 7,876 units as compared to 7,742 units sold last year.

The biggest growth came from Tata Motors-owned British sports car maker Jaguar Land Rover, which sold 49 per cent more cars at 3,954 units on a lower base last year. It retained its number four spot in the ranking in India. It had sold 2,655 cars in the country last calendar year.

Sales at Volvo Cars, the Swedish luxury car maker, jumped a whopping 28 per cent at 2,029 cars, the highest ever in calendar year 2017. It sold 1,600 cars last year.

The company launched locally assembled XC 90 at its newly opened factory in Bangalore followed by the XC60 last month.

“The year 2017 indeed has been a record year for us as we witnessed the introduction of some exciting products like S60 Polestar, V90 Cross Country and the all new XC60,” Charles Frump, managing director at Volvo Auto India, said.

“We are on track to double our segment share to 10 per cent by the end of 2020,” he said.

Frump said 2018 looks even more exciting with a full year sales of the new XC60 and on exciting compact luxury SUV scheduled to be launched mid-year in India.

“Successful roll-out of the first locally-assembled car, the XC90 emphasises our commitment to India and it is a significant step in our achievement of targets,” he said.

Michael Gonsalves