“The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell, of urban and suburban man,” said Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher.
Rightly so, as car has become a status symbol. It is a lifestyle product. While the pandemic up-ended nearly every business activity, luxury car segment was the quickest to recover.
Yadur Kapur, CEO for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, New Delhi explains, “It is the Rolls-Royce Black Badge which has proven to be a massive hit among the north Indians, including Delhiites. What I have observed is that we have started addressing new age buyers. This age bracket involves the younger generation who has this curiosity to taste luxury as soon as possible and is more adventurous.”
Kapur says that the increased purchasing power of Delhiites is helping them spend on luxury cars without inhibitions.
“A city like Delhi has so many business class people, plus now a newer group, called entrepreneurs, has been creating a wave. The buying power thus, has been rising and touch-wood, the luxury car market is doing great. Black Badge Cullinan from Rolls-Royce is perceived to be the customers’ favourite. It is on the wish-list of many people in Delhi. It is ultra-luxurious SUV for people who want to enjoy luxury and versatility,” he adds.
On a roll
In the history of the company’s annual sales chart, which is roughly 116-year-old, Rolls Royce has hit the 6021 number for the first time in India.
As of now, the brand sells two SUVs and one sedan. It starts with Cullinan SUV 6.7L petrol automatic variant at Rs 6.95 crore and goes up to Phantom Sedan 6.7L petrol automatic variant at Rs 9.50 crore.
“In Delhi, the sales were pretty good but to tell an exact number would be difficult. However, it would be close to 200 [vehicles] in Delhi and the NCR region,” tells Kapur.
Similarly, German performance sports car manufacturer Porsche is riding a wave thanks to great sales.
Dilmohan Singh, dealer principal (head of business) of Porsche centre, Delhi, shares, “The choice of luxury car depends on the preferences of the customers. Some look for sports cars while others choose sedan. Porsche is a competitive super car brand in the market. In a city like Delhi, which has roads dotted with pot-holes and bumps, it is clear that we need cars which can provide an effortless and smooth riding experience. Porsche has great ground clearance and that’s exactly is its USP. Here, we see all kinds of seasons, including the tough rainy season when the roads are clogged and the car is supposed to negotiate them. At this point, Porsche is giving tough competition to other brands like Mercedes or Audi.”
In India, Porsche has been selling since 2014 but the figures never impressed the carmaker.
However, in 2021, the brand witnessed record sales, resulting in around 62% growth. Their SUV offerings drove volumes with Macan accounting for 39% of the sales and the Cayenne taking the second spot. Porsche India also recorded its highest order intake in 2021. The price of Porsche 911 in Delhi starts at Rs 1.72 crore. The price Porsche 911’s top variant goes upto Rs 3.24 crore in Delhi.
Having said that, not all luxury car manufacturers are basking in success. For some it is difficult and a constant tussle in the market. Aston Martin, another luxury super car manufacturer, has found the competition quite tough.
Akshay Sharma, head of marketing, says, “In Delhi, our biggest competitor is Urus by Lamborghini. Here, people mostly prefer Urus because they don’t know the potential/value of Aston Martin. We sell pan India as we are the only dealers. People who know Aston Martin as a brand and what it offers to the customers, they definitely buy it without a second thought.”
Aston Martin sold eight cars in 2022 in Delhi which is not a bad number according to them.
Sharma further adds, “Our demand is more in south India. In Delhi, it’s a bit tough.”
Notably, the price of Aston Martin car starts at Rs 2.95 crore for its Vantage model while its most expensive version is DBX, starting at Rs 3.82 crore.
Sharma also states, “We make a target of selling only 12 cars a year including SUV, Convertible and Coupe category cars.”
Lamborghini is the talk of the town and clearly credit goes to Urus. Lamborghini India recorded a significant increase of 33% with 92 cars delivered in 2022, the best figure in the country so far.
Speaking of the sales in Delhi, Kinjal, representative of the marketing team asserts, “From the beginning of the year 2022, we observed good sales. In the month of April, we launched Huracán Tecnica, which played a pivotal role in acceleration of the sales. In Delhi, people prefer SUV which serves everyone irrespective of the age group. It is comfortable and has got everything required for a smooth and safe drive on a metropolitan city’s roads.”
While the brand chose not to disclose its sales numbers in Delhi, it admitted that the figures are satisfactory.
Second hand, a blessing in disguise
There was a time when luxury cars were simply out of reach even for the rich section of the society. However, things changed ever since third party or dealers of second-hand cars entered the market.
One such dealer is Big Boy Toyz Ltd (BBT).
They pat themselves on their back for the trust they have gained over the past 12 years.
Jatin Ahuja,founder and managing director, Big Boy Toyz Ltd, explains, “Currently, Lamborghini Urus has been trending and it is because the car provides the best of both the worlds. It is powerful plus practical. There has never been a Lamborghini which has had a greater ground clearance.”
Lamborghini’s Urus has been in great demand in Delhi since connoisseurs can drive it around daily, he adds.
The brand has, in fact, gained in the super-car segment thanks to the sales of Urus which is deemed a practical car.
After that, Aston Martin came up with DBX and now Ferrari is coming with Purosangue.
“In Delhi, people have a liking for two cars, Mercedes and BMW. Their annual sales in Delhi have been around 3,000 to 4,000 cars. Both these brands’ cars have grown to become lifestyle products. Audi, on the contrary, has not unleashed its complete potential yet,” adds Ahuja.
Low maintenance cost
Earlier, people wanting to buy luxury cars had to worry about the high maintenance cost. But ever since third party dealers – giving pre-owned (second hand) cars — have arrived, there’s been no problem.
“Maintenance is no challenge now. One can get it done in around Rs 20,000. People have been spending in buying luxury cars and if we talk about the pandemic blues then no, in the luxury cars segment that has not been the case. People who want to buy a super car might have delayed their purchases owing to the pandemic and prioritised the rest of the basic needs. But now they have been spending pretty well. After all, a good car is a status symbol in the society. In fact, manufacturers of luxury cars have been doing their bit in providing luxury to everyone by coming up with budget-friendly models. For example, the Mercedes A class or Mercedes-Benz AMG A45,” adds Ahuja.
At BBT (Big Boy Toyz), they claim to invest their own money first before anyone else’s.
“That’s how it is an assurance that our products are the best. Notably, BBT sold half a dozen Mercedes and 18% of the sales of the Lamborghini in the year 2022,” concludes Ahuja.
Sanyam, head of marketing at Select Cars, a dealer in the Capital, speaks of how brands have overcome challenges that luxury car owners face.
“If we talk about Delhi roads, they aren’t smooth — be it Delhi NCR and even Gurugram. But that’s no longer a hurdle because brands have been constantly coming up with improved technology and greater ground clearance,” he says.
But there remain some challenges which, he says, aren’t brand’s fault.
“Despite this, Delhi’s traffic situation can still be considered a hurdle. Also, whenever people see a supercar besides them, they start challenging the owner of the cars to race with them and some even start driving rashly to show that they are superior to them even they own a normal car. But the thing is that it is not the brand’s fault. It is upto the owner of the car how they take care of it. Every supercar/sportscar/luxury car is different in its own way. Some prefer BMW, some prefer Audi, while others go for Porsche even though their prices are very similar. In essence, it’s about what the customer likes.”
Merc all the way
According to Sanyam, the most loved luxury brand in Delhi is Mercedes and there are reasons for it. “Mercedes are chauffeur driven cars. Around 2011, Audi was very popular. It depends what the company is offering. Nowadays, BMW is giving a lot of features in their cars and hence their sales are decent.”
He also mentions the reason behind the massive success of SUV especially Mercedes and Lamborghini.
“SUVs are great for Indian roads. Take the example of Mercedes G63, the g wagon. The sale of that car is very high. Even in India, bookings were closed for some time. In Delhi NCR, there are at least 150+ g wagons according to me. That’s super high for a car that is expensive — Rs 2.5cr to 3.15cr approx.,” says Sanyam.
Sunil Dutta, a businessman from the Capital who owns a Porsche Carrera, says, “I got this car for many reasons. First is handling of the car. It is effortless even at high speeds. The designs of Porsches are timeless. Porsche is the best sports car manufacturer.”
Similarly, Mukesh Rana who owns BMW M5, says, “The best thing about BMW is that you will feel confident and in control while driving it. The best thing about a BMW M5 is that it is the best 4-door performance sedan and it looks the best against its competitors. In my opinion, you will feel the raw high-powered vehicle experience in BMWs only.”
Concluding the discourse, Paritosh Gupta, another dealer in Delhi who sells sports cars, says, “Automobile is an emotion and a person buying a luxury car thinks twice before making a decision. I observe in Delhi that people are obsessed with Lamborghini, BMW and Mercedes. These are the top three brands which Delhi people can’t get over. Our company moderates a private group of 300+ owners of supercars. Without going deep, I would say that it absolutely depends on what an individual does and what the purpose of the purchase of the luxury car is. Sports cars are a different thing and SUVs have a different public perception. The sales for us as dealers have been great and growing. In fact, in the year 2023 also, the luxury cars segment is destined to perform well.”