New Delhi: British luxury sports car maker Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd is firming plans to enter India, a company spokesperson said.
“We are actively looking at the Indian market,” the spokesperson, who didn’t want to be named, said over the telephone from Aston Martin’s headquarters in Warwickshire, England.
The company is evaluating what models it wants to launch in India.
Separately, in reply to a question posted by Mint on its website, Aston Martin said it was in talks with potential dealers in India but was yet to appoint one.
Luxury car sales were the only bright spot for auto companies during the slowdown in 2009. Sales at BMW India Pvt. Ltd have risen 28% this fiscal year to 2,627 units, while Audi India sold 977 units—a growth of 61%. Mercedes-Benz India Ltd, however, saw its sales fall 2% to 2,478 units.
Driving in: Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez with the auto maker’s first four-door sports car Rapide at its launch in Beijing on 24 January. Jason Lee / Reuters
Luxury bike makers are also flocking to India. Harley-Davidson plans to launch its range of motorcycles in April, and Ducati is expanding its presence across the country.
In December, Ducati inaugurated a second showroom in Gurgaon, a New Delhi suburb, and the company has plans to open outlets in Kolkata and Bangalore this year.
Industry observers attribute the fall in Mercedes’ sales to buyers wanting to switch brands quickly. Late entrants have found that it is possible to gain traction in the Indian market relatively quickly.
“The luxury car market is tilted to fresh arrivals as the buyer in this segment is always looking for exclusivity,” said Deepesh Rathore, managing director with business analysts IHS Global Insight. “Hence there will always be potential for a new player entering the market,” he added.
Aston Martin plans to exploit the underdeveloped sense of loyalty among Indian buyers to luxury cars.
The car maker was a part of Ford Motor Co. till 2007, when it was sold to a joint venture company co-owned by businessmen David Richards and John Sinders and Investment Dar and Adeem Investment of Kuwait for $848 million (around Rs4,000 crore at present).
Under the new management, developing markets have become a priority, with the company adding dealers in China, Russia and West Asia.
Shally Seth in Mumbai contributed to this story.