BMW targets affluent Indian customers

BMW plans to expand in India’s emerging electric car market, aiming to win over rich consumers in the world’s most-populous nation amid a growing emphasis on clean energy.

The German automaker expects electric vehicles to account for 25% of its sales in the country by 2025, Vikram Pawah, president of the company’s India business said in an interview at the Bharat Mobility Global Expo on Friday. It sold 1,474 electric cars in 2023, making up 10% of its total sales in the country.

BMW, which introduced battery-powered vehicles in India last year, currently sells five electrified models, the most among all carmakers.

While India’s EV market is growing, its size is small. Price-conscious consumers are reluctant to buy costly battery-powered cars without subsidies, especially considering the limited availability of charging stations. Electric cars made up just 2.3% of the total passenger vehicles sold last year, according to BloombergNEF.

Still, global carmakers are showing interest in India’s budding EV market as the demand for electric vehicles slows in Europe and the US after a few years of surging growth.

For Volkswagen AG, EVs will be the “main focus” this year, Ashish Gupta, brand director at the company’s passenger cars division in India, said in an interview at the same event. The carmaker will initially bring fully-built electrified units into the country, and later assemble more premium EVs. It will make EVs locally only after the inflection point is reached, around 2026, he said.

Elon Musk last year said Tesla Inc. will likely make a “significant investment” in India and plans to visit the country this year.

BMW is planning to launch 16 cars in India in 2024 and expand its dealership network to four more cities in three years, from 35 currently. BMW doesn’t intend to invest in more plants yet, Pawah said.

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William Murphy

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