The League Of Super Cars
By : | October 30, 2013

The luxury car market in India is booming with several players. But, lack of road infrastructure and high taxes are the big stumbling blocks.

BMW Z4

As a rookie reporter on the business desk of a weekly newspaper, writing a few years after the economic liberalisation, one of my first visits was to a Mercedes Benz plant in Pune. Luxury as a concept was not on our radar at that point and Mercedes was as haute as you could get. All the Bollywood stars drove one. So did the industrialists and anyone who wanted to flaunt his wealth. In most cities, owning a Mercedes was akin to making a statement: that you have arrived, and how! The shop floor of the car major was an automobile aficionado’s delight – millions of square feet crammed with metal bodies and conveyor belts and the smell of paint.

Jaguar

Recent reports tell me that this hallowed icon of luxury living in the 80s and 90s India is fast losing ground to newer kids on the block – the fast and furious BMW and the German wonderboy Audi, besides brands like Porsche. The old-world Rolls Royce, in the meantime, is scouting for strategies to capture a large part of the Indian market, and the imagination of the people. A few months ago, the automobile giant reported that it had received more bookings than it expected for its iconic Phantom Series II.As the demand from even the most obtuse Indian towns’ increase for luxury cars, luxury car manufactures have seemingly hit a sweet spot. These envy-inducing beauties have defied all economic vagaries. The super exclusive car segment has doubled in the last 18 months, with fancy cars like Ferrari, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley battling it on the potholed roads of India for a slice of the affluent Indian’s garage space.

Rolls Royce

So we have upscale dealers and the fancy cars, but do we have the infrastructure to work them? Most manufacturers complain about a crumbling road infrastructure that doesn’t do any justice to the beautiful drive experience that high-end cars offer, and import duties that makes selling a luxury car in India an expensive proposition. While they may not be able to do much about the absence of beautiful roads, they are looking at assembling more cars in India to drive down the price points.