Cars & Bikes

Auto weekly wrap: Luxury cars and bikes steal the spotlight

Luxury cars and premium bike brands made a beeline to the showrooms this week with six launches outnumbering a single launch in the mass market category, making it a rare occurrence.

From a compact BMW-owned Mini to the powerful hybrid sports utility vehicle (SUV) from Porsche to a power-packed street bike from Ducati affluent buyers were certainly spoilt for choice this week. This is even as the Tata Nexon AMT was the only model launched from the mass market category during the week.

BMW launched the all-new Mini Countryman in three variants with prices starting at Rs 34.9 lakh. Built on the X1 SUV platform the Countryman will be assembled at the Chennai-factory of BMW.

Luxury car market leader Mercedes-Benz upped the tempo further with the launch of the AMG E63 S at Rs 1.5 crore. This is the 14th launch by the German giant under the AMG badge in India.

Yet another German supercar maker Porsche unveiled the plug-in hybrid version of the Cayenne set for launch later in September. Expected to be priced close to Rs 2 crore the Cayenne combines the power of a petrol engine and an electric motor that can power it for 44 km by itself.

Luxury car demand in India grew nearly three times that of other passenger vehicles last year encouraging more launches in the category despite the price band.

India witnessed sales of 40,000 luxury cars last year, a growth of more than 20 percent compared to sales of around 33,000 units clocked in the previous year. The other passenger vehicle industry grew by around 7 percent last year.

But India’s luxury car sales are still at a nascent stage when compared to the global benchmark. For instance, the luxury car demand made up only 1.2 percent of the country’s total passenger vehicle sales whereas the global benchmark is around 10 percent. China’s luxury car consumption accounts for 13 percent of its total car sales.

Despite the macroeconomic woes and adverse steps taken by the government that looked at discouraging luxury car purchases India’s appetite for such cars is growing promisingly. This is the reason why all such car makers now have an assembly plant in the country some of which have the distinction of being the only second plant in the world to produce a particular model.

Where Mercedes and BMW are making a splash their two-wheeled counterparts are not too far behind. Famed Italian superbike maker Ducati launched the 821 Monster street bike during the week. Priced at Rs 9.51 lakh the 821 Monster is powered by an 821cc engine generating a peak power of 109ps.

Japanese giant Kawasaki too launched the Vulcan S at Rs 5.58 lakh to complement its expanding range of superbikes and street bikes in the country. However, the highlight of the week for this segment was the launch of the Indian Roadmaster Elite.

Priced at Rs 48 lakh (enough to buy a Mercedes-Benz C Class) the Roadmaster comes powered by a 1.8-litre twin cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed transmission. Only 300 units of these will be made globally.

Similar to luxury cars the demand for premium and luxury bikes has gone through the roof. As per estimates by manufacturers sales of such bikes that cost more than Rs 5 lakh rose to 15,000 units last year and are expected to touch 20,000 units by 2020.

Harley Davidson, MV Agusta, Triumph, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki Aprilia, Hyosung, Kawasaki, and Benelli have either started their assembly operations or are in the process of the doing it. Ducati and Indian are importing bikes into the country as of now.