Not keen to buy market share, want viable case for dealers: Audi India head

Rahil Ansari, Head of Audi India
Audi, the Germany luxury car maker slipped from its pole position in the domestic luxury market in 2014 to a third spot last year. Mercedes and BMW occupy the top two slots now. Rahil Ansari, Head of Audi India, tells that the company is undergoing an exercise to redefine its growth strategy and will aim at getting back to number one position.

You are completing the first year as Head of Audi in India. Can you sum up the year for the company here?

We have a great positioning in the market as a young dynamic brand. There have been challenges such as GST last year. When I started a year ago I realised there are a lot of challenges for brand Audi here. So, we had to restructure everything, redefine the strategy and get things right for us and turnaround. The growth of two per cent that in 2017 is fabulous considering the first half of the year was not great. It is very important to have a sustainable growth and that is my focus. If you don't have a viable network of dealer partners, growth will not come. We have to get this right. The process will continue.


Last year you said you are now happy about being number 2 in India. You ended 2017 at the third position.

I am still not happy. There is always a vision of being a leader in the market. But buying volume and market share is the easiest thing to do. That is not our target. We want to have a viable case for our dealer partners and the company. This can allow much more investment in dealer network and drive growth. We hopefully look forward to becoming number one again in the future though there is no timeline target for this. It is not important for us to look at what our competitors are selling. If they sell, they sell. We have to see how we generate growth.


What will be the roadmap towards securing back your position as number one?

We need to work on three pillars- network, customers, and products. You need to expand the product range, bring alternative powertrain, expand our Q range of vehicles. We will go into tier II and III cities and expand the network with a workshop first approach. That makes a more viable case for dealers who will not have to invest too heavily if the market is not big. We will continue to take Audi to customers' doorstep with our mobile terminals.


2017 was also a year of high discounting in the industry. Will that trend change this year?

The market environment will decide how things will pan out. There were a lot of changes last year and there was pressure to liquidate stocks. I think the market scenario will be more stable this time. Irrespective of a manufacturer it is important that dealer partners get a viable case and have profitable growth.


Can we expect Audi to bounce back this year?

We are looking at a double-digit growth in 2018. We are convinced that the new Q5 will help us get there. It has to be done and we are confident.

We see good growth from players like JLR and Volvo though on a smaller base. How do you their performance?

I don't mean to be arrogant. These brands are not part of the luxury segment. They are part of the premium segment which is typically positioned below the German trio (Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Audi). It is good for the customer to have an alternative but it is not part of the luxury range.


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