Luxury car sales in India registered a healthy growth in 2018 even as the segment witnessed multiple setbacks including an increase in customs duties and the unavailability of adequate finance in the second half of the year.
The top five manufacturers of luxury vehicles in the Indian market — Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo — jointly clocked sales to the tune of 40,340 units in 2018 compared to 38,989 units sold in 2017, a growth of 3.4 per cent. Company wise, all these carmakers except Audi, registered a year-on-year sales growth.
Audi India’s total sales recorded a decline of 18 per cent for the year at 6,463 units, down from 7,846 units in 2017. The German carmaker attributed this drop, among other factors, to the closure of its largest dealership located in Delhi NCR.
“2018 was surely a challenging one for the automotive industry in India, especially in the second half of the year. The luxury segment was under pressure owing to financial market development, changing customer sentiment and changes in tax policies. We faced some unforeseen business challenges during the year, which led to reduced deliveries for 2018,” said Rahil Ansari, Head, Audi India. Fewer launches than its peers is also said to have impacted the carmaker’s sales last year. However, Audi is planning to launch the A8 flagship sedan and an updated R8 supercar in India this year.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz India maintained its leadership position in the domestic luxury car market and sold a record 15,538 units in 2018, up 1.4 per cent over 15,330 units sold the previous year. Although the carmaker witnessed strong demand for its models in the first half of 2018, rising interest rates, depreciation of the rupee and rising import costs put volumes under pressure in the second half of the year, weighing on overall growth.
“We are satisfied with our sales performance in 2018 despite facing strong macroeconomic headwinds in H2(second half), resulting in low consumer sentiment that posed significant sales challenges. We, however, made a strong comeback in the Q4 period (Oct-Dec) and were able to achieve a year-on-year growth,” said Martin Schwenk, MD & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India.
BMW however, recorded robust double digit sales growth recording sales of 11,105 units (including 700 units sold under the Mini brand), up 13 per cent over the 9,800 units clocked in 2017. The company’s Mini brand alone witnessed a growth of 66 per cent last year.
As for the smaller players in the market, Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover posted a growth of 16 per cent to hit 4,596 units sold in 2018. Swedish brand Volvo posted the best growth of the lot, with sales rising 30 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017.