At BMW, first-time buyers take a second hand route

  • While BMW keeps EV lead in luxury automobiles, it will not launch another hybrid in India.

Alisha Sachdev
First Published12 Jan 2024, 12:05 AM IST
BMW’s used car sales grew 32% in 2023 to attain their best-ever levels.
BMW’s used car sales grew 32% in 2023 to attain their best-ever levels.

Bavarian automobile maker BMW’s India branch, which encompasses the premium two-wheeler brand Motorrad, British premium hatch brand Mini and BMW’s passenger cars, clocked its highest sales in 2023, delivering just over 13,300 cars, a growth of 18% over sales in 2022, and 8,768 motorcycles, 20% more than 2022.

However, what shone alongside the growth in sales of BMW’s new vehicles, is its growth in its used car sales, which grew 32% in 2023 to attain their best-ever levels. “We achieved this by upgrading many near-premium customers to luxury, and by upgrading existing luxury customers to higher brands,” Vikram Pawah, president, BMW Group India, said.

Used luxury cars are a good alternative for Indian customers, who are known to be conservative when it comes to making big-ticket luxury car purchases, to have a premium car ownership experience.

“Our Premium Selection (BMW’s used cars business) addresses that segment of customers who would normally not come to buy a new luxury car. Fifty-six per cent of new X1 customers are directly entering the luxury fold from the non-premium segment directly into a new car. But those customers who do not want to migrate directly into those categories, buy sometimes even a used 3 series, or 5 series or 7 series straightaway. So those are the demographics we are looking at. In addition, we are also targeting those customers who are unsure about being in the premium space—are more conservative—for them to try the luxury ownership experience and then upgrade them to a higher luxury segment,” Pawah explained to Mint.

In 2024, after a record year of sales for luxury cars in India, BMW is lining up 19 new launches across its Mini, BMW and BMW Motorrad brands, including the new 5 series, the X3 SUV, the new MINI Countryman and the R1300 GS from BMW Motorrad. It is also looking to expand its dealership footprint and revamp all its showrooms to the Retail Next concept of more immersive, premium experience outlets, Pawah said. Two of these 19 launches will also be EVs.

While BMW has a dominance in electric car sales in the premium segment in India, with its five electric offerings accounting for 10% of the brand’s total PV sales in 2023, it is consciously choosing to keep away from plug-in hybrids.

“We have only one plug-in hybrid in our line-up, which is the XM, and it’s at the really high end of our line up at the moment, priced over 2 crore, so that’s a very niche product mainly aimed at high performance in a very sustainable way. It’s the most powerful BMW that is available in the country, but also is available with a hybrid powertrain. The product has been accepted very well in the Indian market but sales remain niche. It’s really made a dent in the luxury class with the competitors facing the heat on that one. So that’s doing well,” Pawah told Mint, adding, “However, we don’t intend to launch any other plug-in hybrid at the moment because there is no benefit to the customer on that. Once we brought the product in, the feedback that we got from customers was there is no cost benefit with a plug-in hybrid because of the tax structure being the same for a traditional internal combustion-engine vehicle and a plug-in hybrid. Customers do not intend to pay more for that. However, we have many plug-in hybrids globally so if the situation on the tax front does change, then we will bring in more.”

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First Published:12 Jan 2024, 12:05 AM IST
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