Luxury carmakers bet on ‘affordable’ wheels to drive out of slowdown

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(This story originally appeared in on Oct 16, 2020)

NEW DELHI: Luxury carmakers are driving up affordability to win over customers. As the industry passes through a challenging period, exacerbated by the pandemic and economic slowdown, companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW — the German trio that dominate the Indian luxury car market — are now introducing ‘entry-level’ models to widen their appeal and attract a fresh set of buyers.

Audi, which can claim credit for setting up the foundations of luxury SUVs in India under its Q badging, is hopeful of making a splash with the Q2 mini that it expects will more than fill the gap created by the absence of its popular Q3. The Q3 has been missing in action as the company is yet to introduce the BS6 version in line with the upgradation in the emissions standards from April this year.

SUVs have been the most popular body style across price points, including the under Rs 10-lakh category, and Audi hopes that its new offering will help it gain some market share at a time when the company is passing through one of its toughest periods ever. The Q2, however, will be offered only in petrol version, leaving many enthusiasts — who love diesel for the driving punch and long drives — out of its ambit.

Mercedes-Benz, which discontinued the A-Class hatch and the CLA entry sedan, is now gunning for younger buyers with the A Class sedan, which it had also showcased at the Auto Expo held at Greater Noida earlier this year. The A-Class will likely be priced upwards of Rs 35 lakh. BMW also put its hat in the entry luxury ring with the 2-Series Gran Coupe, which it will be producing at its facility in Chennai.

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