Audi India expects some good surprises with Q2, its smallest SUV providing launched 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 throughout the buoyant festive season. “We now have witnessed an increase in gross sales in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The contribution to volumes is growing steadily. Our digital initiatives are additionally taking us nearer to the shoppers in smaller cities,” he mentioned. 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 now have been extraordinarily profitable with our Q vary of automobiles in India, and Audi Q2 ought to be no completely different. It’s a ‘luxurious all-rounder’ that’s large on options and extends the profitable Q-family. Audi Q2 is focused on the more and more progressive, younger and concrete prospects. It would open new avenues for the model by serving to us attain a brand new set of patrons 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 entire gross sales for Audi in India. With the introduction of Audi Q2, adopted by different new era Q fashions, we anticipate 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 properly 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 must always have a robust enterprise case, ideally over 85%-90% of our volumes. It’s our ongoing endeavour to supply extra automobiles in India in order that we are able to supply them to a wider vary of shoppers. For the high-end luxurious automobiles 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 luxurious 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 give attention to C & D section automobiles, and their success is a sworn statement to the model’s attraction on the top-end. Trying on the larger image, we want a beneficial coverage framework to broaden the luxurious section in India. We now have to remember that the luxurious section is simply 1.0% of the general Indian passenger automobile (PV) market.
Q. What’s the gross sales pattern 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 pattern 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 automobiles is right here. The patron profile has shifted little or no for us at Audi.
Businessmen and ladies, who used to journey shorter distances by flights, at the moment are opting to drive or to be pushed quite than take a flight. The youthful era is extra aspiring and extra keen to spend their cash. Many children aspire to get into the lap of luxurious. We opened bookings for the Audi Q2 solely on October 3, however have obtained over 100 bookings.
This validates our confidence that there’s an inherent demand out there for compact luxurious automobiles that provide nice worth. Many of those prospects are first-time entrants to the luxurious house and need to benefit from the way of life related to the Audi model.
We now have additionally witnessed an increase in gross sales in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The contribution to volumes is growing steadily. Our digital initiatives are additionally taking us nearer to the shoppers in smaller cities which have a big impression on our gross sales. We now have taken the digital expertise to the dwelling rooms of our prospects and are giving them the flexibleness to buy their Audi of selection.
We now have had over 40k interactions on AR the place fans, prospects and potential prospects have interacted with the model within the lockdown interval, throughout Might-June 2020. As we speak, 18%-20% of our gross sales come from the web medium. Everyone seems to be linked on their telephones, and the whole lot is offered on-line – this was the genesis of our digitalization technique. Our app ‘myAudi Join’ presents thrilling customer-centric options. The most recent model of the app offers a number of further features.
They embody login for Audi Membership India members, fee choices to allow in-app merchandise buy, unique presents from Audi Concierge on car-life merchandise and on-line assist and assist. 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 fans get entry to options like augmented actuality, placement of take a look at drive requests, product brochures and repair price calculators amongst others.
Q. Does Audi really feel that the subsequent development 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 forth. is bringing in good numbers.
Our gross sales in Tier-II and Tier-III cities are rising progressively, and we anticipate it to choose up additional throughout the festive season and thru 2021. With a rise in disposable incomes and aspirations of proudly owning international manufacturers, the contribution to the amount is growing steadily from smaller cities. We additionally see a constructive pattern of shoppers in these cities who’ve an urge for food for efficiency and way of life automobiles 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 broaden our footprint in areas that exhibit rising aspirations to personal luxurious automobiles. 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 selected 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 forth.
Lastly, ‘Audi Permitted: plus’, our pre-owned automobile division, has been displaying good development even when the general market was constrained; it grew at 11% in 2019. We consider that it’s going to be one of many main development drivers for us in future as we now have a transparent give attention to 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 “Automobile 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 creating 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 probably the most progressive premium model with one of the best buyer expertise. We need to be the model with the best attraction, fascinating customer-relevant improvements and breathtaking design. We now have to remember a complete ecosystem. It’s essential that we ship one of the 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 occasions, we now have made progress in the direction of our bigger sustainable development. I might be blissful if we’re primary, however I might be happier if all our stakeholders develop sustainably. As a model, we’re targeted 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 data, Audi Concierge facility, geo-location and repair bookings that had been supplied earlier.
Potential prospects and fans get entry to options together with AR, placement of take a look at drive requests, product brochures and repair price calculators, amongst others. Since its introduction in Might 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 12 months. Configurations on the web site have seen 50% spike this 12 months in comparison with the earlier. And 18%-20% of Audi India’s lead era– which ultimately converts into purchases – occurs by way of on-line channels, and that is rising.
Greater than 40k AR experiences have been taken simply throughout the lockdown interval (Might-July). We aren’t forcing this to occur by pushing typical bookings or gross sales to on-line by offering any freebie or incentive, however we’re development to occur organically.
Q. Has Audi India been capable of resolve its ‘seller misery’? How are you coping with your gross sales and repair companions and ending buyer woes by addressing their perpetual issues?
There isn’t a ‘seller misery’ at model Audi. Our seller companions are our key model pillars. COVID-19 has grounded your complete worth chain of the automotive enterprise in India; impacting all stakeholders. At Audi India, we now 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 we now have taken embody optimizing stock ranges and sharing curiosity prices for our companions. Most of our coaching is being undertaken on-line resulting in price and time financial savings. We now have 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, we now have taken many actions to assist our companions’ profitability and short-term liquidity.
Q. With an excessive vary for gross sales in India, what are the launch plans to broaden your portfolio as competitors goes on a product offensive. How would Audi India steal the thunder?
There are thrilling occasions forward. Audi Q2 is our sixth product within the final ten months, and yet one more product goes to return this 12 months, adopted by many extra subsequent 12 months. We are going to proceed to deliver extra fashions into the nation, which will probably be a very good 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 can be crucial we develop the luxurious automobile market altogether.
Q. How is the festive season going, is a revival doubtless?
A: To be able 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 12 months, Audi Q8 has obtained an awesome response, and we’re assured that with the brand new Q8 Celebration we can widen the attraction of this irresistible Q SUV mannequin. For the newly-launched Audi Q2, we’re providing a ‘Peace of Thoughts’ bundle that comes bundled with an entire service bundle and a pair of+3 years roadside help. That is for the benefit of possession for the shopper who’s getting into the lap of luxurious. We now have additionally commenced our Festive Celebration Programmes on sure merchandise together with Audi A6, for this festive season with a decrease fee of curiosity or peace of thoughts bundle, as much as 5 years.