Indian luxury car segment is driving towards an all-time high sales this year with the big three, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, posting record numbers in the first half of 2023. In the January-June period this year, German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz posted its best-ever half-yearly sales in India at 8,528 units, a growth of 13 % over 7,573 units in the year-ago period. Similarly, compatriot BMW Group also posted record sales of 5,867 units of luxury cars across its BMW and MINI brands during the period, its best half-yearly sales in India.
Another German luxury carmaker, Audi, posted a 97 % jump in retail sales in India at 3,474 units in the first half of 2023 as compared to 1,765 units in the January to June period in 2022.
“Our estimate is that in the first six months (of the year) about 21,000 cars have been sold in the luxury space and normally H2 (second half) is better than H1. So, our estimate is that the whole luxury cars segment should be close to about 46,000-47,000 cars this year, which definitely is all-time high,” Audi India Head Balbir Singh Dhillon told PTI.
The previous record was about 40,000 units in 2018, he said, adding after that the luxury segment had suffered in 2019 because of the “economic situation” and from 2020 onwards the pandemic had hampered growth.
“So this is a resurgent year, everybody’s growing. Somebody is growing stronger than the other. That’s what reality is and will always be,” he added.
Similarly, BMW Group India President Vikram Pawah said, “In the second half also we will break records… It will be even better (than H1) with supplies becoming normal. We’ll be having a record year if all things remain constant in the economy. The demand seems strong, the product line-up is strong, further enhanced by the launch of the new X5 and response is strong.”
On the reasons behind the robust growth in the luxury segment, he said apart from new launches and models fueling growth, the strong economy of India is playing a key role.
“We have a strong economy. Sentiment is positive, earnings are going up for people. We are not facing the same inflationary pressures that some of the western countries are facing at the moment. For us it’s still a reasonable level here, it is high but not dramatically high. There is a solid foundation in the Indian economy and the Indian system which gives us that possibility of growth,” Pawah said.
Additionally, Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director & CEO, Santosh Iyer said other factors like stock market being at an all time high and corporate India earnings also registering strong growth, there has been better bonuses and payouts and a lot of companies are also buying cars.
“Right now, there is a very strong momentum and also a very conscious shift to luxury cars. So the demand continues and we see no reason for that to change as of now,” Iyer said.
Bullish on the Indian luxury vehicles market, Dhillon said,”We believe that the medium to long term growth story is intact, not only the overall car segment will grow, but the luxury segment will also grow. Today, we are just about 1 % of the overall car segment, we believe by 2030 we should become 2 %.”
When asked if the luxury car segment in India is close to fulfilling its potential, Pawah said, “It is still far away but we are headed in the right direction.”
As compared to Asian economies which are developing or just newly developed where the luxury car penetration is between 5 to 8 % of the industry, India is still at 1 %, he reasoned.