GST will help expand luxury car market: JLR India MD Rohit Suri

Rohit Suri, Managing Director, JLR India
Luxury car makers, including Tata Motors-owned JLR, expect a bump in the market owing to the positive impact of goods and services tax (GST) on prices. Rohit Suri, managing director (MD) of JLR India, tells Ajay Modi, that the company is confident about growing volume and the market share in India because of its expanding network, product portfolio and the growth in the overall market. Edited excerpts:

How does the current year look considering the last one was a flat year for the luxury segment?
Last year was challenging due to various events such as diesel ban, duty increase and demonetisation. This year the market seems to be much positive. In the long term, GST will help in expanding the overall market. Prices are coming down due to GST in our segments. We definitely see this as a good year. Last calendar year we retained out the market share of 8-9 per cent. This year, we look to increase the market share with the introduction of new products.

JLR aims to double the market share in India. When is it likely to happen?
In the next 2-3 years, we should be able to double the market share with a very strong portfolio. While I am not going into the specific market share that we may hold, we are confident of exponentially increasing the market share. We will be strong with respect to standard utility vehicles (SUVs) to gain the market share. We definitely expect a volume as well as the market share growth this year on the back of our work on the product and the network side. The overall market growth due to GST will help us. We have repositioned some prices in April and FY18 has started off pretty well.

Are you seeing the postponement of purchases due to GST?
We were little apprehensive after GST rates came in. So, we decided to pass on benefits that will accrue in the GST regime so that there is no reason for people to postpone purchases. We have started to see footfalls coming back.

Luxury car makers, including JLR, expanded petrol offerings in reaction to diesel ban of NCR. Is there a shift towards petrol cars or buyers no longer want it as the ban got lifted?
After the ban was lifted, there was a lot of confusion and dithering of purchases. It impacted the overall sales for every luxury player. Post the ban, there are many people who continue to prefer buying diesel car but we are starting to see a gradual increase in the demand for petrol cars. There is a shift from diesel to petrol though it varies from segment to segment. The final mix we cannot predict now. We will adapt to the requirement of consumers.

How many JLR vehicles you make in India? Is India also a supplier of components for the global business?
We have five popular products that are now locally produced in both brands — Jaguar and Land Rover. We have a good proportion now being locally produced. On the component side, there are suppliers who supply from all over the world, including India, for JLR. Four-five years ago there were hardly any suppliers from India. Now we have certain critical components coming from India and we hope this will increase further if components are competitive. That drive continues. It is difficult to put a number here.

How significant is the used car business for JLR? Why is it becoming critical?
There are many people who aspire to own a Jaguar and Land Rover product but sometimes pricing becomes a restriction for us. We have been in India for 7-8 years and we have a good park of used JLR cars (about 17,000 units). Our used car also delivers value for money and we support it with extended service packages, etc. It becomes a good option. Customers, who are not able to take our new car, can consider the used car with a starting price of Rs 20 lakh. Used car business helps the existing customers to upgrade to new cars and allows new buyers to experience a JLR so that they may in the future upgrade to a new car.

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