Land Rover has overtaken BMW as the country’s No.2 luxury SUV player in sales, helped by a passel of factors spanning a bigger bundle of models to competitive pricing to a more effective positioning in the market.
The luxury marque that Tata Motors acquired in 2008 from Ford Motors and launched in India early last year sold 35 units compared to BMW’s 16 units in January, according to latest figures. Germany’s Audi has raced ahead of the pack with 114 units while Mercedes sold 6 units.
Market watchers say Land Rover was aided by many factors, but none more important than its cheaper pricing compared to BMW products. Land Rover models start from Rs 35 lakh and go up to Rs 1.11 crore while BMW’s entry price is a steeper Rs 55 lakh. The UK brand also sells its entire range, including the Freelander 2, Discovery 4 Sports Tourer, the Range Rover Sport and the Range Rover, in India.
In contrast, BMW sells only the X3, X5 and X6 in India. Analysts say Land Rover offers wider options and variants in its premium SUV range compared to BMW’s limited number of models. The Tata Company was also able to project itself as rugged SUV model, fit for rough terrains, while BMW pitched for a lifestyle alignment in the market.
“We are encouraged by the response to the Land Rover vehicles in India,” said Rohit Suri, head of premier car division at Tata Motors at the launch of the Freelander 2, adding that the company will enhance the Land Rover product portfolio as it expands across cities.
For Tata Motors, Land Rover sales are presently eclipsing those of Jaguar, the other marque it brought along with Rover. BMW, meanwhile, is looking to regain the initiative. The company plans to start assembling the X1, its entry-level SUV priced at a more competitive Rs 26 lakh, at its Chennai plant, "The 3 series, 5 series and X1 will be the volume puller for the company," said a senior BMW executive.
Globally, premium SUV sales are under the weather as manufacturers are increasingly focusing on selling fuel-efficient small cars. SUV makers are expand product range and distribution network in emerging markets such as China and India is driving premium, encouraged by the stupendous growth of cars.
The luxury car market is expected to grow at 15% this year with a greater push from the rural markets, but paltry volumes are forcing premium SUV makers to import most models as CBUs (completely built units).
Audi, whose SUV sales grew 50%, will start manufacturing the Q5 in India from April. The completely knocked down (CKD) of the model is currently being sold in India while the Q7 is imported.