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German luxury car manufacturer BMW has decided to introduce petrol variants of all its vehicles. President of BMW Group India Frank Schloeder said soon an additional engine line will be introduced at the Force Motor’s plant in Chennai where the company’s engines are assembled.
Luxury car manufacturers had been hard hit by the Supreme Court’s order to ban the plying of vehicles with diesel engines having capacity of two litres or more in the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi. Although the apex court had subsequently lifted the ban, the intermittent period had seen vehicle sales plummeting with luxury SUV manufacturers being worst hit. Schloeder, while speaking to the media in Pune, said that the company might not have been directly hit by the ban as most of their vehicles were fitted with below two-litre engines, but there was uncertainty about it in the mind of customers. “Enquiries about petrol engine had increased. Also, many customers were uncertain about investing in diesel engines as they did not know about their resale value or future,” he said. The new BMW 3 series Gran Turismo would be the first petrol variant launched by the company in India with Schloeder stating that more such variants would be introduced in a phased manner. “The engine assembly lines will be flexible,” he said.
Schloeder also said the company wishes to make increase the luxury car market in India. “At present, luxury cars represent only 1 per cent of the vehicles being sold in the country. We want to increase this,” he said. The company has plans to make the ownership of luxury cars an affordable experience. “This would include servicing, financing and other options. We feel there is a psychological barrier in the mind of the buyer about luxury cars which has to be removed,” he said.
Asked about the introduction of hybrid vehicles in India, Schloeder said the government should give incentives for the introduction of such vehicle. Commenting about the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST), he said the government should not penalise luxury vehicles. On Wednesday Schloeder also unveiled the new BMW 3 series Gran Turismo in India.