BMW to drive in 1Series hatchback and Mini compact in two years

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NEW DELHI: BMW plans to drive in its 1Series hatchback and the Mini compact within two years to stay ahead of archrivals Mercedes Benz and Audi in the booming Indian luxury car market.

“The Indian market is evolving fast and, as the leader of luxury car, we are looking at our compact range of cars to meet varied preferences of customers,” BMW India President Andreas Schaaf said on Tuesday.

“We are doing everything to stay ahead of the competition and drive into new segment that would keep the customers delighted,” he said.

Last week, Mercedes Benz India MD & CEO Peter T Honegg told ET that his company will bring its compact car range of A Class and B Class by 2013.

BMW tops the luxury car market, which grew a record 70% last fiscal to more than 15,000 cars, closely followed by Mercedes and Audi. Other contenders include Porsche, Jaguar & Land Rover.

Speaking to ET on the sidelines of the launch of a concept high fuel-efficient diesel car, Schaaf said, “We will get as many products from our global lineup depending upon the local demand including the best of technology and new concepts developed by our parent company.”

The list would include the new concept, the Efficient Dynamics. The car delivers fuel efficiency of 26.5 km/litre of diesel and emits only 99 gm of Co2 for the same distance. It has a top speed of 250km/hr and accelerates to 100km/hr in 4.8 seconds. The concept will hit the road around 2013.

Indian consumers have started to shift preferences to new concepts and niche products and that encouraged the world’s largest maker of luxury cars to undertake a feasibility study to bring its small cars like 1Series hatchback and the highly popular Mini range. The cars are expected to be priced at 22-27 lakh.

Since 2009, Europe’s largest car company Volkswagen has sold more than 500 units of its 23-lakh Beetle, while Fiat has sold more than 100 Cinquecentos, priced 16 lakh. These expensive machines have created a small market for themselves, which will get a boost with the launch of BMW and Mercedes small cars.

The luxury carmaker also announced that it would not hike the prices of its locally-produced models, 3 and 5 Series sedans and SUV X1, despite new import duty norms on completely knocked down units, as it has already been assembling the engines of the vehicles in the country.

“At this point of time, our completely knocked down (CKD) operations are fully fulfilling the new regulations. We are paying 10% duty… There will be no price hike,” BMW India president Andreas Schaaf said here.

For pre-assembled engines, transmissions and gearboxes, customs duty was fixed at 30% in the 2011-12 Budget as against 10% earlier. However, other parts continue to attract a customs duty of 10%. “In our engines, about 50% of the assembly is done in India. So it is considered as locally produced,” he said, adding, the company has been assmebling its engines and transmissions since the launch of these models in the country.
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