Mumbai: Peter Kronschnabl, president, BMW India Pvt. Ltd, is preparing for his next posting—Russia—after having set up BMW AG’s operations here.

The German expatriate leaves in two weeks for Russia, identified as a key growth driver by BMW. Kronschnabl was instrumental in establishing company’s manufacturing facility in India, enhancing the model line-up and expanding its dealership network—a strategy which helped BMW outsell German rival Mercedes-Benz India Pvt. Ltd in the country.

Kronschnabl talks about his India experience and the road ahead in an interview on the sidelines of the new BMW 5 Series launch. Edited excerpts:

Smooth ride: Kronschnabl says in the current year the Indian luxury car market will sell at least 11,500 cars, up from 9,000 in 2009. Ramesh Pathania/Mint

I had a tremendous experience in starting an operation from zero and becoming a segment leader within three years. It’s a world record for BMW, we never did that against a well-established competitor. That was a good experience. On the other hand, the openness of the Indian customers to the creativity we applied in the country was for me also first time seen. I have to thank our customers for that, I think I learnt a lot.

How is the Indian market different?

Despite the fact that there was a global slowdown, the Indian market and the economy (were) growing. I have worked in Hungary, Poland and French-speaking Africa. I saw many markets, but I must say India is one of the markets with the best long-term growth potential globally.

What do you think are the challenges for your successor?

Challenges are always there. We are at present the No. 1. Becoming the No. 1 is always easier than staying No. 1. I am very confident of my successor, who is an excellent colleague. He will further develop BMW, help the company to retain the No. 1 position.

What are the key lessons from your tenure in India?

The biggest lessons for me as our strategy unfolded in India...if you apply everything at par with your global standards, you can move rocks in a very short time. On the other hand was the openness of our own associates, which we created within the company. I am not only talking about my operations in Delhi but across the country.

We had a highly competitive dealer that helped us to achieve the No. 1 position in a very short time.

BMW is the market leader in luxury cars in Russia. What will be your key priorities for the market?

Obviously, one of the key priorities is to stay No. 1. I cannot share more insight as I join the Russian operations in two weeks from now.

How do you see the Indian luxury car market in India this year? Which models will be the growth drivers for BMW here?

In the current year, the Indian luxury car market will sell over 11,500 cars from about 9,000 cars in the last calendar year. By 2015, you will have a luxury car market of over 20,000. The growth drivers for BMW in India will be the new 5 Series, 3 Series and of course the 7 Series. The introduction of the X1, our entry model SUV (sports utility vehicle) that is expected by the end of the current year, will be the perfect urban SUV and further add to the volumes.