Given the real estate cost for setting up dealerships, how will your dealers make money?
It is a big issue. Luckily, we are starting from a clean slate. We will work on the size of showrooms, experience centres, and have a combination of virtual and real showrooms. We will be asking dealers to take care of the customers well and we will look after their profitability.
India is a fairly crowded market for passenger vehicles. What will your brand stand for?
We would like to under commit and over deliver. It is not going to be easy. We know eight-nine global players form less than 25 per cent of the market share in India. How can we be successful? In each and every aspect of consumer dealing, we will have to be careful from Day One. We will put a structure where our front line employees are empowered to take pro-consumer decision on the spot. The game of this business is execution and we will focus on that.
Would you operate across segments?
We will begin with the sports utility vehicles. The premium hatchback is doing well. I cannot say that we will be present in all the segments. But to be a meaningful player, we need to get into many segments.
Most global car brands did not make money in India after years of operations. How it will be different for you?
At the end of the day, every business has to make money. There is a gestation period. We know the company and its dealers need to break-even as soon as possible. We do not have to lose money on the product. Margin-wise contribution is going to be profitable from Day One.
What made MG Motor skip the Auto Expo last month even as you get ready for the 2019 launch?
We believe in slow and sure growth. We will look to build the momentum slowly so that we peak at the time of launch. We do not believe in high-ups and high-downs with no engagement periods in between. We thought of renovating the plant first, start hiring, get the dealers and then build the brand.
Given that many firms have struggled in India, is there a list of not-to-do things?
Being here is not a 20-20 match, it is a test match and therefore critical to have a strong foundation. It is surprising that we talk about investing in marketing and brand but we do not talk about investment in training and skill development. We may talk about investing Rs 10 million in an advertisement but giving an incentive of Rs 5,000 to a sales person becomes an issue. We need to balance the ad spends with the customer satisfaction initiatives. You should not introduce and withdraw products from the market frequently as it affects resale price and brand value.