The Indian automotive scene has changed immensely from when I used to visit India in the 80’s. Back then you could count the different models of cars you could buy on one hand and it really came down to two options – Hindustan Motor’s Ambassador or the Premier Padmini (which was a design licensed from Fiat).
Today, it’s like a firehouse of new car launches almost on a weekly basis. The latest numbers for the first half of 2018 are in and India is just killing it right now in sales. India is currently ranked #4 in new car sales and at this pace, it will be the best year ever for India at close to 4 million units sold. If you compare the retail dollar value of the Indian cars vs the German cars you can guess there will be a large delta between the two.
Having said that, car companies are still focused on India as the last big market to make a name for it. Kia which is partly owned by Hyundai is looking at entering the Indian market. Kia would be a great fit as their cars are viewed as inexpensive and giving you great bang for the buck. The VW Group came to India 10 years ago and talked about owning 20% of the market, that is laughable as they are just under 3% market share as of now. (I wrote about the VW Group back in July 2011). The VW Group recently handed over the India operations to their Skoda brand in a reboot for them titled India 2.0 Project.
I believe for Indian car sales to grow it will have to be more innovative and not go down the path of the internal combustion engine (ICE). That’s where I feel some of the startups in the electric vehicle (EV) space may end up doing very well in India. And, I don’t mean a coal-powered plant that is delivering electricity but an EV that is completely off the grid and powered via solar panels. Yes, that is ambitious but that’s the ultimate goal.
On a side note, it’s breathtaking to see China so far ahead of everyone. Almost 30% larger than the US car market which historically has been the largest passenger vehicle market for decades.
Source: India set to surpass Japan