• Decoding the electric future with Vikram Pawah, President and CEO, BMW Group India

The i4 is BMW's third EV launch in six months. What’s the plan going forward?

We promised in December that we’ll do three big launches in 180 days. We’ve done that. This is the start of electromobility for BMW India. Globally we’ve announced 25 electrified products by 2023. Out of that, half will be fully electric vehicles. We intend to bring them to India as well.

Do you think the fact that the i4 is the first electric sedan will be an advantage, because everybody else is bringing in SUVs, as a body style?

At BMW we’ve always believed in providing different body types to customers. If you look at our sales till now there’s a good share of SUVs and sedans in our portfolio. Similarly, when we were introducing EVs we didn’t want to lose any customers out of the fold. Because we believed that providing options to all types of customers is an important thing. That’s when they choose rightly. Otherwise, the choices go a little bit skewed. That’s why we made sure we launched an SUV, a premium hatch and a midsize sedan as an option for electric vehicles. All customers get equal opportunities.

You’ve just announced a very aggressive push with the M platform. Tell us more.

The M platform is the core of BMW as well. We’ve just completed 50 years of M on May 24. We launched the M4 CSL as a homage to the original CSL, the fastest produced BMW in the world. We’ve also announced the introduction of multiple editions of M vehicles during this year of celebration. So, exciting times are ahead for the M division. Indian customers have always appreciated M cars because when we introduced the fastest locally produced car - the M340i, we got a phenomenal response. Every time we open a new batch of bookings, it gets sold in minutes!

Do we see a bigger push in terms of localisation and more CKD models here?

We’ve been localising all of our major volume models here. 90 percent of our cars and SUVs sold are locally produced. So, our commitment to 'Make in India' is very strong. We have been manufacturing for the last 15 years in the country. We also recently produced our one lakh car. It was the fastest one lakh car in the luxury segment. So, as we continue to grow in volumes, our commitment to localisation grows as well.

This year we are seeing the return of the sedan as a body style in mass market segments. Do you also foresee that for luxury segments?

I’ve always seen that in BMW the ratio between SUVs and sedans has been very balanced. So we are not a brand that only sells one type of cars. We’ve always had a very balanced portfolio. BMW offers two Gran Coupes as well as an 8 Series in our sedan portfolio. We offer from the X1 to the X7 in the SUV segment so, the choices are quite strong. And people are attracted to both styles.

What are your plans for electric infrastructure and charging stations?

A part of the ambition is to lead the luxury EV space. We had a very clear strategy. One was to have the most diverse portfolio in the country. We’ve already established that in these 180 days. The second objective was also to make sure that our EV customers have a hassle-free experience. So we’ve created the best private DC charging network in the luxury space. We have 50 DC fast chargers in 34 cities across the country. This is in addition to the 11kW wall charger that we provide with every EV for customers. As a private player, we’ve really created a robust infrastructure.

You’ve just launched a fresh batch of ADVs. What's the plan for Motorrad this year?

We started Motorrad operations in India in April 2017. In five years we’ve become the only premium motorcycle brand in the country to cross 5,000 units, which we did last year. That’s not good enough because for us it's more about us in the end. It’s not about where we stand compared to the competition. We grew by 100-odd percent last year. This year, in the first four months, growth has been 49 percent. So we continue to grow. There’s a long waiting period for some of our bikes at the moment. The response has been phenomenal not only for the locally produced G 310 R or G 310 GS but the entire range. We even outsold our new midsize adventure motorcycles before launch! We also introduced the maxi-scooter in India. People did question the C 400 GT's Rs 10 lakh price. And I can tell you that there is a huge waiting list for that scooter.

Overall how is 2022 looking for you, now that we are at the halfway point of the year?

It looks very encouraging. I think the growth momentum continues. The bounce back of demand is very very strong. Of course, some supply challenges limit us from making sure we can capitalise on the demand immediately. But clearly, at the end of this year, we will have a very robust growth. Last year we finished the four-wheeler segment with 34 percent growth. This year, in the first four months, we’ve had 36 percent growth. Similarly for motorcycles, last year we had a 100-plus percent growth. And now the first four months of the year project a 49 percent growth. So clearly, the momentum’s there for a fantastic 2022 for the entire Group.

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