At the culmination of a long journey, with the India 2.0 program, what’s the initial feedback been to the Taigun?
What the customers are absolutely loving are the driving dynamics of the car, which you also vouched for, and which is one of the big reasons for this award today. They absolutely love the power delivery of the car, the way it handles with absolutely no body roll, and the layout of the cockpit. This is something that customers have really appreciated, and I see it in talking to dealers and talking to customers on social media. So, from that perspective, we are very happy! Yes, customers have given us some feedback on what could be improved – in terms of features and some interior elements, which we’re working on.
Your next big product launch for India is a sedan on the same platform. What is the future of the sedan segment – is it heading towards obsolescence or is there a chance of revival?
The people we are appealing to, in that segment especially – and I place myself in that segment as well – are in that age bracket where a sedan still has appeal. We have grown up looking for a ‘big’ car – that’s something which still has a lot of potential and aspiration amongst people. That’s the kind of audience we want to appeal to, with a dynamically different product. I’m sure once this car comes out, it will totally redefine customers’ perception of a sedan. It’s that kind of a product. So I’m pretty confident that this product will actually end up growing the segment.
So, do you think that the SUV trend is aspirational for a younger audience and the sedan is still aspirational for a slightly older audience?
I wouldn’t say old or young, it’s more about what kind of a life stage or a lifecycle you’re in. Yes, SUVs are the hottest segment and will continue to grow at the pace that we’re seeing. But, at the same time, I do feel that, if you provide a viable and attractive option to customers, there are customers who are willing to go for a sedan as well.
Do you miss not having a diesel engine?
To be honest, from a sales point of view, yes. If I had a diesel, I would have sold many more Taiguns, as well as all the other cars that I have in my portfolio. But, as a very conscious decision, we decided pretty early, maybe three or four years back, that we’re not going to remain in diesel. And we’ve prepared our plans accordingly. We did our research accordingly. We could see very clearly that the trends are moving towards petrol. If you look at the market itself, it has moved heavily towards petrol. Petrol, of course, has a sustainable future as well, before you bridge into electrification. So, it’s been the right strategy, and the results are speaking for themselves. In fact, with the Polo and Vento, when we withdrew from diesel, I had an apprehension that my sales would falter. But, actually, they picked up. And, with the Taigun, we see that customers absolutely love the power delivery of the car. The advantages that a diesel offers are available in our TSI technology, both with the 1-litre and the 1.5. So it makes sense for us, and for customers as well.
'In the next 5-6 years, 10-15% of the Indian market would be electrified. And that would be when it becomes viable for us to enter this segment,' says Ashish
What is the future of EVs for Volkswagen in India?
Definitely, EVs are the future across the world, and in India as well. But it’s about timing. When do you have a critical mass for that segment to become viable for us? Currently, EVs are less than 1% of the market, but the growth is maybe 100% every year. So what we foresee is that, in the next 5-6 years, 10-15% of the Indian market would be electrified. And that would be the time when it becomes viable for us to enter that segment. Our board member, Mr Zellmer, went on record to say that the second half of the decade is when we can look at electrification in India, from Volkswagen.
What is the outlook for 2022?
This situation is going to continue for the next six months at least, into the second half, or at least for the first half of 2022. The capacity of semiconductors is not going to increase or change dramatically in such a short period. It takes time to build up those capacities. So, we can be prepared for more shortages in the first six months of next year. The hope is that, in the second half, the demand and supply balance out and we are able to supply cars in line with demand. The only hope that I have, and I don’t have a crystal ball, is that demand continues at this level.