In 2018, BMW cut the lead of rival and market leader Mercedes. And in Q1 CY19, it continued to outpace the struggling German luxury behemoth, further narrowing the gap.
Hans-Christian Baertels, President (acting) and CFO, BMW India, said the carmaker has six more launches lined up for 2019.
Edited excerpts:Q: 2018 was very good for BMW, but with several uncertainties surrounding 2019, how do you see it?
A. There will be no prediction from our side. We have 10 launches this year, we will try to leverage them as best as we can. The product substance will speak for itself. In 2018, we outperformed the market. In January-May, we have done well against the market trend. But this is not because we were planning to do it like that, it happened as we focused on products and customers.Q: How many launches can we expect this year?
A: We had the John Cooper Works (Mini), 530iM Sport and Z4 so far this year. Up ahead, we have the X7, 3 Series, 7 Series, X3 M and X4 M. We might see the Mini Clubman and X1 facelift by end of the year. This is good for us to make a statement, but we want to ask buyers to come to our showrooms and experience the product.
Q: The petrol version of the X5 is Bharat Stage-VI compliant, but what about the price impact of the
Is working on BS-VI complaint diesel version of X5?
A: We are working on it. The BS-VI will come at a certain cost, but we have to talk to Munich (BMW’s headquarters) on how to minimise the impact. It’s a big concern for us. The smaller the car the more disruptive it really is in terms of price impact. We are trying to get the number down to the minimum.Q: At the same time, companies are talking about launching electric vehicles (EV). What is your stand on that?
A: We have been running the i3 (hybrid) for six years now. There are several countries which are very friendly for EVs and hybrids. That is yet to happen in India. But it can happen very quickly and we need to be ready. Our ambition is to talk to Munich to figure out which models would be the most relevant for us and bring them to our plant in Chennai. Post that, we need to see what are the necessary investments and how big would the customer base be.Q: Have you started discussions already?
A: Yes, we have. In India, such things move very fast and you have to be ready for new legislation. If you start talking to Munich then, you lose time. And our headquarters know that this will happen in all the markets at some stage. Same thing goes for shared mobility. Every market has a different environment, players and data bandwidth. So, we need to figure out if we need to do our own thing or do we need to rely on local players.Q: Would you rather wait for others to launch such cars in India and see how the market behaves?
A: I don’t hope at any time point in time to be in that situation where I have to make a choice like that. I hope things will happen in a way that clearly says ‘this is the time to do it now’. If there is a huge uncertainty about how big the market is and how reliable the legal environment is to do things in a certain way, then I am not comfortable.Q: Should luxury carmakers continue to localise given that demand outlook is not that great?
A: Almost everything we sell is localised. About 90 percent of our sales are localised. Except for Z4 and M branded vehicles, everything else is localised.