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Audi plans to take CBU route

January 17, 2004 11:38 IST

Luxury car-maker Audi said it has made a proposal to its board that it will first enter India through the CBU import route before going for CKD assembly.

A final decision is likely by March end, Jorg Hofmann, managing director (Asia region and Pacific) told a select media briefing here today.

He said the decision to enter the market was being hit by high duties on imports as well as the current size of the market, which is extremely low.

"But we are likely to launch our vehicles in India during this year. Audi will go exclusive. We will have exclusive dealerships across the country. There are no plans to join hands with any other automaker," Hofmann said.

As a policy, the cars will not be imported from China where the company is producing and selling significant numbers since it set up base there.

The vehicles will be imported from Germany to maintain the German flavour of engineering and design of the luxury car," he said.

He said the company has been doing market research for its vehicles in the past few months, and it has already created a database of buyer profile.

Asked if being a Volkswagen group company could mean that Audi look at synergies with another group firm Skoda which has a manufacturing unit here, Hofmann said, "It would be ridiculous not to do so. We can explore the possibilities of using any idle manufacturing capacities. But no decision in this regard has been taken as yet."

He said India is a China of the future implying that there is immense growth potential in this market which is currently dominated by small cars.

However, the super premium luxury car market will also grow gradually and offer big business opportunities for companies like Audi. Hofmann said Audi may have the disadvantage of being a late-comer into the market.

DaimlerChrysler and BMW already have a presence here. So, he, said, there maybe a need to invest heavily into brand awareness programmes.

The consumer profile of Audi owners will be different from the owners of Mercs. They will be a younger, dynamic and happening persons.

BS Corporate Bureau in New Delhi