Mercedes-Benz S Class
2014 has been a very aggressive year for Mercedes – you’ve had a number of launches. How has the year been for you?
We call it the ‘Year of Excellence,’ not necessarily the year of aggression. It’s been a good year. After a very good 2013, where we grew by more than 30%, 2014 is another record year for us. Year-to-date in September, we sold 7,549 units to be precise – and that’s retail sales, i.e. sales to customers. This is another plus 16%. A good result, but it was planned like this. We follow a strategy in India that focuses on different pillars, and one of the pillars is bringing the latest technology to the market – so it’s working out very nicely. We’ve launched 9 cars already this year. The 10th will be the C Class by the end of November.
We are future ready. Our production capacity is being doubled right now, so everything is in place to deal with future growth. The GLA, which we just launched, and the C Class, which is just around the corner, and the CLA, which we’ll introduce to the market at the beginning of next year – there’s no question, from a volume perspective, these are important models for us. So it all follows an approach towards sustainability and profitability. Mercedes is a true and pure luxury brand. A Mercedes always comes at its price, but there’s a lot of value behind the price – it’s value for money, and this is the approach that we’ll take beyond 2014 and into the future.
How important is it to be number one in the luxury car space?
We follow a strategy that is about sustainability and profitability. It’s a long-term approach. If you do your job right, then the numbers come by themselves. We are not looking left and right. Actually, Mercedes-Benz is the only luxury brand publishing numbers, so I can’t tell you where the others are. But we focus on our job, on our brand, and on our strategy. And this is what we take forward.
You mentioned 7,500+ cars by the end of September, so presumably you’re on track for the 10,000-target that was set for the year?
The target was, once again, achieving double-digit growth. Selling 9,003 units last year, plus double-digit growth, you end up with a five-digit number. So, it was not a target to sell 10,000 units, but it will happen.
The S Class, of course, is an icon. But there have been a number of launches in the more mainstream segment of the premium car space. How important is it to grow that section of the market?
The S Class is an icon, of course, and many journalists have named the S Class the best car in the world – it’s not what we say, but we are, of course, happy to hear it. The car is doing extremely well. Globally, we are selling more S Class’s than the combined sales of our two main competitors when it comes to their flagship models. The S Class is in high demand in India. We have long waiting lists, so we’re working on that. Of course, it’s a good sign because it shows us how attractive the product is, but I’m not a fan of waiting lists. We would like to have our supply ready for every customer.
If you look at the portfolio, we focus on four segments. One is luxury sedans, where we are strong – and have been since we came to India in 94. Actually, we’re celebrating 20 years in India this month. It’s our core segment, and we have a lot of loyal customers. The second segment, which has developed over the past few years, is the SUV segment. It started with the G Wagen, which is a legend with 35 years in the market. We added the ML and GL, both of which are being manufactured in India, and just recently the GLA – our first compact luxury SUV. We’ve seen more than 100% growth in the SUV segment this year – and this is without the GLA – so this segment is getting very popular in the luxury car business. The third segment is luxury compact cars. The A and B Class pioneered this segment one-and-a-half years ago, and we’re very happy with the initial success. More than 3,000 A and B Class cars are already on Indian roads, and we gain new customers for the brand everyday. The fourth segment is the performance cars segment. Our performance brand, AMG, has had several new launches – the ML 63 AMG, the GL 63 AMG, the CLA 45 AMG, and just recently the GLA 45 AMG. Sales are growing by more than 150% this year compared to last year. It’s a niche segment, but there is, of course, demand for performance cars. There are the classical sports cars, but the highest demand we see is for our performance SUV’s. The G63 AMG, the most expensive car in the portfolio, sells best in the AMG range. This might change now with the CLA and GLA 45 coming in, but we see a lot of demand for our AMG SUV’s – this has to do with infrastructure. It has to do with the fact that you are able to use these cars everywhere – the race track or off-road, or for daily commuting. They have a lot of practicality, besides all the fascination and performance. Our aim is to have the Mercedes-Benz offer in all these segments – always providing luxury and the highest value for money.
How do you see 2015 panning out – you have the C Class launch around the corner and the CLA early next year?
We follow a long-term strategy, and 2013 and 2014 are milestones – and 2015 will be another one. It will be another exciting year, and our team and dealers are very dedicated. It’s full steam ahead to next year.
What are the biggest challenges facing a luxury car manufacturer in India?
Infrastructure is an issue, and not just for luxury car manufacturers. The growth of the population and the increasing levels of individual mobility require better infrastructure – so there’s a lot to do. Harmonised tax structures is another issue. Today, in every State, and even every city, you have different tax structures. So, we very much support the government in introducing GST. We are fully committed to the ‘Make in India’ campaign – and with Daimler, our mother company, we are present in India with four companies. Other than Mercedes-Benz India, we have Daimler India Commercial Vehicles – with Bharat Benz. Then there’s MBRDI, Mercedes-Benz Research & Development India. It’s a research and development company, and it’s growing fast. India is the biggest research and development hub for Mercedes-Benz outside of Germany. And the fourth is Daimler Financial Services. So, if you put everything together, we have a few thousand employees in this Daimler world. So we support, and live, the ‘Make in India’ campaign.
Tax structures and customs duty structures are very high in India – so Indian customers pay more than most other customers globally. In some products, the total tax burden is more than 50% of the total retail price. So this is another issue that we would like the government to look at. Finally, if you talk about jobs, we are very proud to have a state-of-the-art factory here in Pune. And if demand increases, we would only be able to cater to it if we had more people. So, we would be more than happy to create more jobs.
The A3 is fantastic from behind the wheel. How’s it doing on the showroom floor?
It’s doing really very well. We’d love to get more is the short answer. It’s been really well received. It’s opened a new customer base for us, which is what we thought it would. The salaried employee is also now considering a luxury car, and this is an opportunity for them. So, in the first few months, we’ve notched up more than a thousand, which is everything we’ve got basically.
Mostly new customers, or do you have some existing customers opting for the A3 as well?
There’s a few for whom it’s another car in the family, but the majority are new customers.
So, it was wise than to have waited for the sedan version of the A3 to come out, rather than to have come in with the hatchback?
We think so. At the end of the day we don’t get the full market data, so we don’t really know. But we think it was a right decision, and the customers seem to be saying the same – so we’re very happy.
How has 2014 been on the whole?
I must have had a pretty good crystal ball, because it’s turned out pretty much how I thought. I mean the first half of the year, pre-and-just-post elections, was very flat. In fact, the luxury market was, if anything, slightly down. There is a resurgence now. Showroom traffic has increased substantially – and we’ll finish with double-digit growth, which is solid. The A3 has helped, and it’s turned into a very good year.
How important is it to be number one in the luxury car space in India?
Of course, everyone wants to be number one. But number one, to me, is a lot more than just purely sales volume. You’ve got to have the best network, you’ve got to have the best customer satisfaction, and you’ve got to have a really good customer connect. You want to have customers for life, not just in and out – not just sampling your product, and then going to a new product. Also, our dealers have to be profitable – and they are, which is a wonderful thing. If all of it comes together, if you can get all that right, then you should be number one from a sales volume perspective. But there’s always going to be a seasonality in the product lifecycle. This has been a lean year for us, but we’re pretty confident that we’ll be number one at the end of this year. And then, with double-digit new products next year, it’ll keep us going.
We saw the Q3 Dynamic recently, and there’s also a facelifted version on the cards. When does that hit showrooms, and is the amount of action that we’re seeing in this space indicative of how important the compact SUV segment has become?
For sure, it’s been a wonderful success for us. The Q3 has been amazing, even in the manual mode it’s been phenomenal. So we’re really thrilled with the results of the Q3 – obviously it’s coming to a lifecycle refresh, which will be here nice and early next year.
The A4 also has been around for a while. There’s a new one expected next year. With the new C-Class coming in from Mercedes, you must be pretty keen to get that in showrooms as well?
The A4 continues to be a great success. The current car is phenomenal. It’s not that we need anything in that space. I think it’s doing extremely well. It’s still early days, but we haven’t really seen any cannibalisation from the A3 as yet – so, the A4 has it’s own niche and it’s doing very well. So, from that point of view, we won’t see the new one that quickly – it’s still a little way off.
What are the biggest challenges that you face in India today, in terms of a luxury car manufacturer operating in India?
Personally, the biggest challenge is there never seem to be enough hours in the day. But I’m really thrilled with the way it’s gone. If anything, this year was going to be a challenge for us until we got the A3 in. But our products are very strong, and we’ve done a lot of work with customer connection. We’ve invested an enormous amount of money in training dealership personnel, working on dealership processes and performance. So, a lot of that work really paid dividends in the first half of the year when we didn’t really have much in the way of new products. Now the A3 is on top, and that’s really pleasing to see. And it bodes well for next year, when we have some exciting products coming in.
Speaking of next year, how do you see 2015 playing out from a macro point of view and what are your plans for next year?
I was recently at the World Economic Forum, and there was a lot of discussion on India. People are becoming a little impatient with regards to changes in the economy. It’s perhaps not happening as quickly as they would like. But I think we’ve got to be a little more patient than that. I think the sentiment is very strong. Showroom traffic is certainly up a lot, and sales are up. So, I think that we’ll see a strong 2015 – particularly second quarter onwards next year. I think it’ll still take a little while before some of the key fundamentals change, but there’s a big up-side for next year.
In respect to the segment that you operate in, is sentiment more important than fundamentals sometimes?
I think so, and that’s where Australians and Indians are quite the same perhaps – there’s a lot of emotion in a purchase like this. And I think when sentiments are strong, when your cricket team’s winning for instance, you’re more likely to spend money than when they’re not.
Are you happy with the production facilities that you have in India at the moment? Any expansion plans on that front?
Certainly, there are a lot of discussions. We’re certainly happy with capacity at the moment. We’ve got a capacity of around 14,000 on a single shift. We have 95, maybe even more now, percent of our models being produced locally. So obviously we’ve still got some room to grow. We also can go to a double shift, but there’s certainly a lot of discussion on-going at the moment about just what the next shape of our investments will be. Obviously we’re very positive, with the governments ‘Make in India’ campaign and the like, so there are a lot of discussions on-going. Nothing concrete that I want to talk about, but there’s certainly a lot of positive energy in that direction.
Hyundai Elite i20
The buzzwords in the industry are compact SUV and compact sedan, despite which the i20 has been the biggest launch that Hyundai has had in India so far. How have you managed that?
We’ve been in India for 16-plus years, which has given us a very strong insight into what customers think. A critical part of making a great product is understanding the needs of the customer – and this is where Hyundai has excelled. Our whole endeavour, when we develop a product, is to customise it to Indian tastes, but keep the global brand appeal and essence in place. Blending ‘global’ along with ‘local’ is the biggest challenge. Many companies come to India with a global outlook, but they miss out on the local perspective. They are not able to get the right insights, and that is where they fail. The other side of the coin is when you get the local right, but your global aspirations are not there.
We are a global company, and so our parent gives us important insights – such as global design cues, in terms of what is relevant in the world market, and then we incorporate this into the local market. And this was done very well in the Grand i10 – where we developed two cars on the same platform, one for Europe and the world, and one for India. Similarly, the Xcent was introduced, and then the Elite. And the best part is that all these three cars had their world premieres in India. This is one thing that shows just how much Hyundai Motor Corp trusts India. This importance is allowing us to lead the product in the world market – and that shows the confidence that the headquarters has in the Indian market, the Indian team, the Indian customer, and the entire channel that we have here.
2014 has been a difficult year for the industry in general, but it’s been a good year for Hyundai nonetheless. Is it important for customers when a world premiere takes place in India?
For customers, whether it’s a world premiere or not, the key is whether or not the product is relevant to him. Does it meet his expectations? Does it build the aspiration levels for him? I think that’s more important. Yes, an added feature would be if it is a world premiere. But the first thing is – does it add value to his lifestyle or not? That’s more important, and this is where we’ve excelled. One of the biggest challenges that we had when we brought in the Elite i20 was that we were introducing a product against an earlier avatar that was very successful. The i20 was considered to be the most premium in its segment. So, when you have such a strong benchmark, the challenge is huge to better it. You could make small incremental changes, or you could make a substantial change. We could have lived with the existing product for one more year – we could have made some incremental changes and extended the product lifecycle. But we believe that before the customer changes us, we should change ourselves in order to always remain relevant to the customer.
Looking ahead to 2015, when can we see your all-new compact SUV?
The way forward is compact SUV and compact MPV – these are the two segments where we have no presence as yet. We definitely have presence in the premium SUV space, with the Santa Fe, and we have the technical skills to expand this. Moreover, there is huge expectation from the customer – and we would like to do a great job in bringing a nice product that is more relevant, price competitive, and able to meet the aspiration levels in terms of features. We are just on the threshold of it, and we’ll make a strong statement.
Any chances of an i20 crossover concept – the likes of which we’ve seen from Toyota, Fiat, and VW?
We always look towards using the same platform across various design forms, and that helps us provide more options to our customers. If a particular platform is liked by the customer, and is popular, we can always provide more options on the same successful platform. This is what we’ve done in the past, such as with the Grand and the Xcent. We will do the same in future as well, but it may take some time. There is a window for a crossover – an SUV-like crossover.
The market seems to be increasingly accepting automatic transmissions. Are you evaluating a strategy towards introducing more automatics?
In India, 95% is manual, and 5% is auto. You go to the US, and almost 90% is auto, and the rest is manual. So, the preference is very strong towards one or the other – manual or automatic. Yes, in the world market, in the past, there was a hybrid. And this was AMT. But our experience is that when the customer wants something, he wants to enjoy it to the fullest. For him to settle for a hybrid (or the AMT) has been a bit of an issue. He tends to go either one way or the other – he doesn’t want something that is an intermediary. He may do with it for some time, but he doesn’t stay with it for very long. These are mere transition technologies. We are very strong in manuals, and we also have a very strong strength with automatic transmissions. Over a period of time, automatic transmissions will grow in India, and when they do we have the technology to cater to the market. So, we would be among the biggest beneficiaries of this. We will be able to place automatic transmissions in our cars in future if need be. AMT is a technology that is a transition between a manual and an automatic, and we’re not looking at it currently.
Looking back at 2014, how has the year been?
This year, the market has grown at 0.8% – while we have grown at 8%. Our market share in terms of passenger cars is 21.8%, and in passenger vehicles it’s 17.5%. We’ve never seen this level of market share in India before. And we have grown our share in passenger cars by 1.5% over the past year – and by almost 1% in terms of vehicles, despite the fact that we don’t have a presence in utility vehicles. In 2013, when it was extremely challenging for the auto industry, it was extremely rewarding for Hyundai. When other manufacturers were having shutdowns, or reducing shifts, we operated at three shifts all throughout the year.
One of the most successful launches was the Grand i10 – a world premiere again – which went on to do 1-lakh units. The fastest 1-lakh in Indian history by any Indian model. We were willing to take risks on a product at a time when the market was not growing – we were willing to make that investment.
So, when you have such a strong base – expectations rise. But in 2014 again, we’ve grown in volumes. We are operating at above 99.5% capacity utilisation. We have more than 43,000 bookings of the Elite i20, with two-and-a-half months of waiting – so we have to supply vehicles to customers at the earliest.
Do you think the i20 could challenge the i10 for the fastest 100,000 units in India?
The Grand i10 has been one of the most successful products that we’ve brought to the market. In terms of price, it’s far lower than the Elite i20 – but I think the Elite still has a strong potential to challenge the Grand. In the initial phases, it has already beaten the Grand i10 – as far as booking response is concerned. But we have a limitation in terms of production, and that’s the reason we’ve freed up some capacity for this particular model. We’ll try to produce as much as possible. This festival season, the hottest pick was the Elite i20. And this is just the beginning – this particular product deserves much more!
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
The M6 is a fantastic machine, but not a volume seller. How important is the halo effect from a model such as this?
For India, it’s incredibly important to have such a halo car. BMW is a luxury manufacturer, and we survive very much on the strength of the brand – and in that respect there should be no compromises. The BMW brand values are ‘aesthetic, dynamic and innovative.’ The M models are ambassadors of dynamics of course, but aesthetically as well the Gran Coupe is very important for cementing our brand values. So, I would say that the M6 Gran Coupe is one of the most important cars in the BMW product range for developing the brand.
The BMW brand founded its reputation on the basis of making the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine.’ How important is that aspect in a market like India?
It’s very important. Of course, we have a lot of chauffeur driven cars here – so you may think it’s not so important. But it is important. Look at sports car brands in America, which are successful despite the fact that you have a speed limit of 55mph. In India, we are in a very fast growing, emerging market, and Indians are very brand conscious. Even if some customers don’t drive themselves, they want the strength of the BMW brand. And perhaps once or twice a year they drive on a racetrack and go to the limit with their car. So, it’s very important for them to have this ability.
With the introduction of the i8 in India, which is expected quite soon, is that more a brand statement or a technology statement?
It’s both. It’s a brand statement because it plays into the brand values, like aesthetic if you look at the design – and also dynamic of course. But it’s also very much a technology statement, and it’s a statement of how future oriented the BMW Group is as a company. And so the brand value of the BMW Group is increased substantially through BMW i, because it shows that we are prepared for the future. Of course, the sales figures will be low – like with the M6 Gran Coupe – but you sell a lot more of the core models such as the 3 and 5 Series because they’re part of the same brand. So this pays off in the long term.
How has 2014 been on the whole?
2014 has been a year of two completely different halves. The first half was challenging – not easy for a luxury manufacturer, even though we are not so dependent on the ups and downs of the economy. But India very clearly voted for a change, and since then there is much more confidence in the market. Sales figures are up and there’s traffic in showrooms. Of course, it’s largely a psychological effect. It’s symbolic, but we have confidence in the new government – which is looking for much more transparency, and aims to create a more investor friendly environment. We hope they take the right decisions, especially in the next few months, so that we have a good 2015.
How important is it to be number one in the luxury car space in India?
We are number one in customer satisfaction. We are number one in regards to the brand, and we are in a very good position in terms of profitability. What we are absolutely not looking at is to be number one every month in sales – because, as a luxury manufacturer, our aim is to develop the brand. I don’t want to be number one in a month thanks to discounts because it spoils the brand. So our long-term mission is to have a very sustainable policy of profitable growth. We will grow next year as well, but always in a profitable manner!
Your competitors are very active in segments where your portfolio is quite mature. What can you do to keep models like the 3 Series relevant?
We are very happy with the 3 Series. It’s our core model worldwide, and also in India. It’s still the most dynamic car in its segment. Of course, we look at what our competitors are doing – and we expect that they’ll introduce some strong models, but we don’t have to hide our cars. BMW is not a brand that has sales curves that go up and down drastically, with short lifecycles. Instead, it’s very sustainable. Look at the 5 Series, it’s very successful all over the world – and in India as well. Even in its third or fourth year – last year we did a life cycle refresh – it’s still the most attractive car in its class. Of course, our competitors have very good products, and that pushes us to improve, but we don’t have to hide our models.
At the entry-level side of the premium car space, do you think the market was not mature enough to accept a BMW hatchback – the 1 Series?
We are happy with the start of the hatch. The 1 Series has a different job as compared with a 3 or 5 Series. The 1 Series has the job of brining in new customers to the BMW brand, where they get introduced to the prices and policies of the BMW world – and this process takes time. So, in that respect, we think the 1 Series is quite successful. On the other hand, profitability in the small car market is not as high as in the 3 or 5 Series segments – so why would you push it by giving discounts and losing money. This is something that we’re not doing. Maybe our competitors have a different strategy, I don’t know. But if you want the best mix of profitability and growth, then it’s more attractive to focus on the 3 and 5 Series segments.
We’ve seen the first front-wheel drive BMW in Europe – the 2 Series Active Tourer. Any chance of seeing a model like that in India?
Sooner or later, yes, because the BMW Group believes in the growth of the Indian market – and that means more models in future. In regards to the front-wheel drive technology, we’ve received a very good response from the media. Moreover, a survey showed that 80% of our 1 Series customers in Europe didn’t know whether the car was front or rear-wheel drive. They enjoyed driving a BMW, and weren’t really concerned with front or rear drive.
As a luxury car manufacturer, what are some of the challenges that you still face in India?
On one side, I’m happy that we have a good government and the outlook is positive. On the other side, we have to expect that there will be a certain volatility in an emerging market like India. The biggest, or most unique, challenge is that India is a market with the most rich people who don’t drive luxury cars as yet. A luxury car is probably the fifth or sixth priority. The first is perhaps the education of their children, which is good, or weddings, or real estate – so there’s a lot of untapped potential. And luxury car manufacturers can fight with each other, but this doesn’t bring any advantages because there’s enough untapped potential for each player to find their niche. Long term, I believe that, in the next five to six years, the luxury car market in India will grow faster than the total market.
Are you happy with the production facilities that you have in India at the moment? Any expansion plans?
We always have plans to increase capacity. We’re now going up to 14,000 units. We’ll also continue to increase our localisation. The plant has enough capacity that we don’t need to look for a new one as yet, but if the market demands it, we will go ahead with further expansion. BMW has a philosophy that production follows the market, so if the market is really headed in the right direction, then, yes, we will have to think about it. But right now it’s a little too early.
How do you see 2015 playing out from a macro point of view, and also what are your plans for next year?
From a macro point of view, on the one side I’m very optimistic. On the other side, there’s an incredible amount of expectation from the government – I hope they can fulfil it. I expect, after the budget, there should be a stronger push in the market. So far its just expectations, but the figures have to back this up. The PM is working very closely with the Finance Minister and the RBI governor, and they want to fight inflation – which is very good. They want to make India more investor friendly, so I would say it’s very positive but with some uncertainties.
Maruti Suzuki Ciaz
The past year has been tough for the industry, but the recent results have been very positive for Maruti. How have you managed that?
We have a couple of inherent strengths in our portfolio. One is the number of models that we have. The second is that we go on refreshing our products – whether it’s minor modifications or major changes, or the introduction of an altogether new model. And while doing so, we take a highly customer centric approach based on market feedback, based not only on the aspirations but also the expectations of the customer – taking care of his pain points and concerns. For example, with the recent three models that we’ve launched, our focus had been on fuel-efficiency because fuel prices have been going up and this comes down very hard on the customers’ pocket in terms of running cost. So, we launched the Maruti Ciaz with best-in-industry mileage. Subsequent to that, we improved upon the mileage of the Swift by 10%, and with the latest launch – the Alto K10 – we’ve improved upon efficiency by 15%. So, our focus is always on the customer, plus our widespread service network certainly helps us as the customer knows that we’re going to provide him service right at his doorstep. Another thing is low cost of ownership, not just in terms of fuel efficiency but also in terms of cost of parts as well. Our endeavour is to ensure that the customer always feels delighted and never regrets his decision to purchase one of our cars. We’re also expanding our sales network. Today, we have more than 1,400 sales outlets – so, again, delivering the car to the doorstep of the customer makes all the difference. So, put all these things together, and it creates delight for the customer and helps us in expanding our market.
The Ciaz is a great product that feels premium. But is the product enough change to the mindset that Maruti is a small car manufacturer?
This product is packed with all kind of features. If you talk about the exteriors, they are highly futuristic and very trendy – keeping the younger generation in mind. In terms of performance, again, the shape plays a very important role. It’s the most aerodynamic car in our portfolio, which not only provides a good grip on the road, but also good mileage as it ensures reduced wind resistance when driving at high speed. Likewise, the interiors are excellent. There are a number of features that are of a premium nature. Certainly, these features, put together with the technology, the drivetrain, and the engine, ensure that everything is excellent in this car. It also provides a wonderful driving experience to the customer, so it has an overall feel of ‘premiumness’ all throughout. So, I’m sure that we’ll be able to break into the premium segment with this car.
Is there a difference in the customer experience with this product versus some of your others?
We divide every segment in two parts – in this case, A3-minus and A3-plus. In A3-minus, we’ve done pretty well with the Dzire. In the A3-plus category, the customer looks for finesse, power, and aesthetics. All these have been provided in this car, and I’m sure that it’ll be appreciated by our customers – and so I’m sure that the success that we’ve had in the A3-minus segment with the Dzire will be replicated with the Ciaz in this segment.
Looking at the next year, when are we likely to see your all-new compact SUV?
We’re working on this, and we’ll stick to the timelines that have already been declared.
How do you see next year playing out, and what are your plans for 2015?
Well, last year, the industry de-grew by 6%. In the first half of this year, the industry growth was about 4.3%, though we have grown by 14.7%. So, if you look at the industry growth, it’s not as per expectations. But, certainly, sentiment is changing if you compare it with last year. But the pace at which the market is showing positivity is a little slow. However, yes, we are optimistic about the future. The government is pushing through a lot of the right policies. The direction is correct, and certain positive parameters are taking shape at the macroeconomic level. For instance, inflation is coming down and fuel prices are showing some decline. Going forward, if the interest rates also come down, and the projects that the government is clearing on the fast track get into the execution stage, they will create more jobs and generate a positive vibe in the market. Certainly, in the span of six months to one year, things should start improving. But, as of now, we don’t expect a big-bang improvement in market sentiment.
Finally, what is your reaction to the recent Global NCAP tests that have been conducted?
Well, you know from country-to-country there are different specifications for vehicles – and the same thing holds true for crash tests also. Whatever models we’re producing in India conform to Indian regulations. Each and every model we launch is tested by ARAI, and is certified for road-worthiness. However, as I said, these vary from country-to-country. Some countries have more stringent norms. We are exporting our cars to these countries, and our vehicles meet the norms in these countries. Moving forward, in case there are any changes to the existing rules, we will ensure that our vehicles meet those requirements.