Somewhat of a slow mover compared to its German competitors in the premium luxury segment, Volvo Auto India seems to have got its act right of late in the Indian market. Two new launches last month – that of the new S60 and XC60 – and the successful launch of the V40 Cross Country in mid-2013, has given the company good sales numbers. In fact, there is a waiting period for the V40 – a first for Volvo Auto India. We recently met Tomas Ernberg, Managing Director, Volvo Auto India to know what he has in mind to carry this success forward.
With passing time, Volvo’s brand recognition is increasing in India and the company too has a better understanding of the Indian consumer now, Ernberg said. The V40 Cross Country is a case in point. At the time of deciding the features to be included in the V40 for India, the company decided to add some technologies as standard, which even in Europe are available as options. The fact that customers have accepted the V40 despite the availability of less expensive hatchbacks from its German competitors, speaks well of the increasing demand for technology from Indian consumers, he added. One such feature is the reconfigurable TFT display cluster in the V40. Indian consumers like to have access to unique and futuristic technology. The inclusion of City Safety and the TFT, hence have helped the V40 significantly.
On the back of the increasing demand, the company expects to sell close to 1,000 cars this year, translating into a growth of about 15 %. With a present marketshare of about three per cent, Volvo aims to capture close to 15 % marketshare in the luxury segment by 2020. In order to achieve this growth, the company will focus strongly on expanding its presence in existing Indian cities as well as new regions. In a span of about five years from now, the company plans to have close to 45 customer touch points in the country, allowing for a reach in all key regions of the country. Ernberg told us that soon the company will open up a new touch point in New Delhi in a unique location, which is yet to be tapped by the competition.
Although the target might seem steep, especially without any local assembly presence in India, Ernberg is confident because importing cars is not a hindrance in any way. A key example is the US market, where the company still doesn’t have any manufacturing presence, but consumes significantly higher volumes than India. Ernberg confirmed there is no immediate plan to assemble Volvo cars locally, but did not rule it out in the long term.
In the coming years, Volvo plans to introduce newer technologies in the market, some of which will be the first of their kind, said Ernberg. The company will continue to strengthen its stronghold in the domain of safety technologies as it moves closer to the vision of no deaths in a Volvo car. On the product front, the V40 will continue to be the smallest car in Volvo’s portfolio. Given the popularity of SUVs in India, Ernberg feels bullish about the XC60 and the XC90 in his portfolio. The expanding sales and service network too has helped increase sales and the brand value, said Ernberg.
Unlike the competition, the company does not have any immediate intentions of selling stripped-out low-cost versions of its cars. Offering premium luxury and the best of technologies is what has worked in India up till now and the company will focus on the same in the years to come, concluded Ernberg.