The Germans are coming! Till now, Japanese and American carmakers ruled the premium-SUV space here by selling their CR-Vs, Fortuners, Captivas, Pajeros and Outlanders. They didn’t have to worry about their Deutsche cousins who were sitting pretty in the fat cat segment of the market. But all that will change soon if the Munich-based carmaker BMW gets its act right. The iconic automobile manufacturer is all set to let the cat lose among the pigeons with the X1, its new and affordable crossover compact SUV.
A BMW India spokesman confirmed that the X1
, which has been in the global market since October, would be launched here by early 2011
. And according to top industry sources, BMW’s smallest SAV (sports activity vehicle) will sport a price tag of around Rs 25-35 lakh
. “The right-hand drive configuration is being worked out,” says the spokesman. This is believed to be a bold yet clever move by BMW, which sells the X3, X5 and X6 here in the crossover-SUV category.
Incidentally, the company is also planning to roll out a fresh and bigger X3 next year to ward off competition from the new Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz’s latest and most petite SUV, the GLK. The X3, which was BMW’s smallest SAV before the launch of the X1, is increasingly being deemed passé with dated features and interiors. The new X3 will move into the mould of the bigger X5 with roomier innards and frills.
This will also help to increase the price gap between the X1 and the X3. Currently, the all-wheel drive (xDrive) X3 that is being imported as a completely built unit (CBU) and sold here comes with an ex-showroom price tag of roughly Rs 40 lakh.
The entry-level X1 on the other hand sports a rear-wheel drive (sDrive) and comes with a 1.8L gasoline engine. Overseas, a host of engine configurations are available for the X1 — 1.8L in diesel and petrol, 2.0L diesel, 2.3L diesel and 2.8L petrol. It still remains to be seen which ones make their way here. And as far as sales in this segment are concerned, premium carmakers are having a good time in this country.
For instance, with the X3 and X5, BMW has witnessed a growth of more than 100% in the April-October period this year on a y-o-y basis. Another German player Audi has also had a favourable experience with its two crossover-SUVs, the Q5 and the Q7. Says Abdul Majeed, leader, automotive practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers India: “The potential for the Rs 20-30 lakh segment looks fantastic at the moment.
For global carmakers, this is the place to be since almost two-third of their growth comes from developing countries, out of which India and China contributes 60-70%. Lifestyle changes and an urge to graduate to bigger cars will fuel sales in this category. It will be a smooth ride.”
Well, time to take the rough with the smooth then. Just keep your cheque books handy.